The FIFA World Cup 2022 will kick off on 21st November and it will be played in Qatar. The qualification for the FIFA World Cup 2022 started, as soon as the 2018 World Cup ended. It is thus quite a lengthy process as the proper governance of qualification rounds of all the continents has to be looked after. While some of the participating nations have already been decided, the other spots are yet to be filled. The entire process is expected to be over by the month of May.
A total of 32 teams will take part in the FIFA World Cup 2022. Qatar is the default entrant as it is the host nation and the other 31 nations are decided from the Qualifiers.
FIFA World Cup 2022 Qualifying Matches – 6 June 2019- 14 June 2022.
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Continent-wise qualifiers for the FIFA World Cup 2022
AFC (Asia): 4 or 5
CAF (Africa): 5
CONCACAF (North, Central America, and the Caribbean): 3 or 4
CONMEBOL (South America): 4 or 5
OFC (Oceania): 0 or 1
UEFA (Europe): 13
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Let us now take a deep dive into the Qualifiers of every Continent.
FIFA World Cup 2022, AFC Qualifiers (Asia)
Asia has been assigned 5 spots for the 2022 FIFA World Cup. Four of the spots have already been occupied by Iran, South Korea, Saudi Arabia, and Japan respectively. Australia and the United Arab Emirates will play a match against each other for the other spot somewhere around the month of March.
The AFC qualifiers are broadly divided into 4 rounds. Let us take a look at the qualification structure of AFC:-
First Round – 12 teams belonging to the rank (AFC rank) 35-46 played in one do-or-die two-legged faceoff each and the winners advanced to the second round.
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Second Round – Forty teams (Ranks 1-34 and the winners of first-round) were divided into 8 groups of 5 teams each. A round-robin format intra-group set of matches was then played. 7 group winners and 5 best runner-up teams advanced to round three and also got the direct qualification to AFC Cup 2023. As host nation Qatar finished as winners in their group, the fifth-best runner’s ups replaced them in the third round.
Round three – Twelve teams qualified for this round and they were divided into two groups each. Group A comprised Iran, South Korea, UAE, Lebanon, Iraq, and Syria. Group B comprised Oman, Saudi Arabia, Japan, Australia, China PR, and Vietnam. Iran and Saudi Arabia topped their groups whereas South Korea and Japan were the runner-ups respectively.
These 4 teams have qualified for the 2022 FIFA World Cup. Australia and UAE who finished third in their groups will face off against each other to decide who among them will join the other 4 teams.
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FIFA World Cup 2022, CAF Qualifiers (Africa)
Five teams will be qualifying from the continent of Africa. As of now, no African team has qualified for the 2022 FIFA World Cup. Here’s what their qualification structure looks like:-
First round: 28 teams (CAF rank 27–54) played do-or-die two-legged matches. The fourteen winners went through to the second round.
Second round: 40 teams were divided into ten groups of four teams each. They then played a round-robin format group stage. The ten group winners advanced to the next round.
Third round: qualified for this round are Egypt, Ghana, Mali, Morocco, Algeria, Cameroon, DR Congo, Nigeria, Tunisia & Senegal. They will play do-or-die two-legged matches. The 5 winners will advance to the FIFA World Cup 2022.
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FIFA World Cup 2022, CONCACAF Qualifiers (Caribbean, North & Central America )
CONCACAF nations have 3 fixed spots in the FIFA World Cup 2022 and one more possible spot which we will talk about later. Let us now take a look at the qualification structure of CONCACAF:-
First round: 30 teams were drawn into 6 groups of 5 teams each. The group then played in a round-robin format (2 home and 2 away matches). The winner of each group advanced to the next level.
Second round: The 6 winners of round one played one do-or-die two-legged faceoff each and the 3 winners (Canada, Panama, El Salvador) advanced to the third round
Third round: The three winners of the Second round met the top 5 CONCACAF teams (USA, Mexico, Costa Rica, Jamaica, and Honduras) and they are currently playing in a home and away Round Robin format league. The top 3 teams will directly qualify for the FIFA World Cup 2022 and the other team that finishes 4th will play in the Inter-confederation playoffs.
FIFA World Cup 2022, CONMEBOL Qualifiers (South America)
The qualification process in CONMEBOL is pretty simple. The 10 nations play against each other in-home and away Round robin format. The top 4 nations after the end of the group stage qualify directly for the 2022 FIFA World Cup whereas the 5th finishing team will play in the Inter-confederation playoffs.
Brazil and Argentina are the only two South American nations that have already qualified for the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
FIFA World Cup 2022, OFC Qualifiers (Oceania)
The qualification process in Oceania is pretty complex. The two lowest-ranked teams first faceoff in the qualification round – in this case, Tonga vs the Cook Islands.
Tonga vs the Cook Islands. The winner will head on to the next round where he will meet the 7 top-ranked teams of Oceania. They have been divided into groups of 4 teams each. Group A consists of Solomon Islands, Tahiti, Vanuatu, and the winner of the Qualification match. Group B consists of New Zealand, New Catalonia, Fiji, and Papua New Guinea. The top two teams of each group after playing in round-robin format qualify for the semi-finals.
Team A1 faced Team B2 and Team A2 faced Team B1. The winners meet each other in the finals and the winning team then plays in the Inter-confederation playoffs.
FIFA World Cup 2022, UEFA Qualifiers (Europe)
The European qualifiers are probably the most complex and difficult in all of FIFA World Cup Qualifiers. Let us take a look at the qualification structure of UEFA:-
First Round – It is the group stage round and the easier of the two rounds. Ten groups of 5 or 6 teams are made and they play in a round-robin format. The winners of each group qualify directly for the 2022 FIFA World Cup. The 4 top teams of the UEFA Nations League are put into separate smaller leagues (France, Belgium, Italy, and Spain in this case).
Second Round – It is the playoffs stage. The ten group winners along with the two Nation League group winners based on Nations League overall rankings are drawn into three playoff paths. The teams play two rounds of single-match playoffs. The three path winners qualify for the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
qualified UEFA teams for FIFA world cup 2022 – France, Belgium, Denmark, Netherlands, Serbia, Spain, Switzerland, Croatia, England, Germany.
Second round playoffs
Wales vs Croatia
Scotland vs Ukraine
Russia vs Poland
Sweden vs the Czech Republic
Portugal vs Turkey
Italy vs North Macedonia
A vs B
C vs D
E vs F
Even after all the Qualifiers are played across the globe, two spots will be left for the 2022 FIFA World cup. That will be decided by the Inter-confederation playoffs.
Match 1: AFC 4th Round winner (UAE/Australia) vs CONMEBOL 5th place
Match 2: CONCACAF 3rd round 4th place vs OFC Final winner.