Tasnim – The stage is set for Preliminary Joint Qualification Round 2 for the FIFA World Cup 2026 and AFC Asian Cup Saudi Arabia 2027 following the draw at the AFC House in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on Thursday.
Group E will see Iran, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and Hong Kong (China)/Bhutan vying to advance to the next round.
The 36 sides were drawn into nine groups of four, and they will compete against each team in a home-and-away round-robin format, between November 2023 and June 2024.
Ten of the Round 2 teams will progress from Round 1 of the Preliminary Joint Qualification, with the draw conducted earlier on Thursday. As there will be 48 teams – a first – at the FIFA World Cup 2026, eight and a half slots are on offer for the Continent’s national teams.
The draw for the third round of the global showpiece in 2026 will be conducted in 2024, where the 18 teams will be divided into three groups of six; the top two from each group will qualify directly for the FIFA World Cup 2026. The other two direct AFC entrants will be determined in the fourth round of World Cup qualifying, with one more possible berth available via an Intercontinental Playoff.
The other 18 teams from Round 2 will proceed directly to the third and final round of AFC Asian Cup qualifying. More details on the latter qualifying stages will be released in due course.
The Groups :
Group A: Qatar, India, Kuwait, Afghanistan/Mongolia
Group B: Japan, Syria, DPR Korea, Myanmar/Macau
Group C: Korea Republic, China PR, Thailand,Singapore/Guam
Group D: Oman, Kyrgyz Republic, Malaysia, Chinese Taipei/Timor-Leste
Group E: Iran, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Hong Kong/Bhutan
Group F: Iraq, Vietnam, Philippines, Indonesia/Brunei Darussalam
Group G: Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Tajikistan, Cambodia/Pakistan
Group H: UAE, Bahrain, Yemen/Sri Lanka, Nepal/Laos
Group I: Australia, Palestine, Lebanon, Maldives/Bangladesh