CAF Standings: World Cup Qualifying Process

Nine Automatic 2026 World Cup Berths for African Teams

Changes in CAF World Cup Qualifying Process

Africa certainly left its mark on the 2022 FIFA World Cup. Morocco went on a historic run to become the first African team to reach the semifinals. Ahead of the 2026 World Cup, FIFA announced that a minimum of nine African teams will qualify. With four more teams set to qualify, the CAF has changed its World Cup Qualifying setup. Let’s take a look at the impact on the CAF standings.

African Teams at Qatar 2022

Morocco were one of the best soccer bets at the 2022 World Cup. They entered the tournament as +1000 underdogs to win their group but went unbeaten in a group with Croatia, Belgium and Canada. En route to their first semifinal appearance, Morocco knocked out both Spain and Portugal and became tournament darlings. They weren’t the only African team with iconic moments at the World Cup.

Cameroon, who finished first in the Group D CAF Standings and defeated Algeria in the playoff to qualify for the World Cup. In their last group stage game, they pulled off an upset over one of the tournament favorites, Brazil. Vincent Aboubakar hilariously got sent off with a smile after taking his shirt off to celebrate his stoppage-time winner. Tunisia also took down France in their final group-stage match. Every African team in the tournament won at least one match.

Senegal and Morocco were the two African teams to reach the knockout stage. Senegal came up against England in the round of 16. The Three Lions were too much for the Lions of Teranga as England managed a 3-0 victory. Goalkeeper Yassine Bounou was Morocco’s hero in the round of 16 as they defeated Spain in penalties. Youssef En-Nesyri scored the winner in the quarterfinals as Morocco defeated Portugal 1-0. The Atlas Lions fell 2-0 to France in the semifinal and lost 2-1 to Croatia in the third-place game.

CAF 2026 World Cup Qualifiers

We’ll see more African teams in action at the 2026 World Cup in North America. The CAF recently announced a new format for World Cup qualifiers, which will begin in November. Previously, there were three rounds of qualifiers. In the first, the lowest-ranked 28 teams in the confederation contested a two-leg playoff to determine who advanced to the second-round group stage.

The 14 playoff winners joined the highest-ranked 26 teams in the second round, and those teams were split into 10 groups of four. Within each group, teams played a round-robin and only the group winners advanced to the third round playoff. The winners of the five two-leg playoffs qualified for the World Cup.

Now, each of the 54 teams in the CAF will play in the first round group stage. There are now nine groups of six teams and a double round-robin will be played in each group. The top team from each group in the CAF Standings will automatically earn a spot in the 2026 World Cup.

Meanwhile, the four top-ranked group runners-up will advance to the playoff stage. The semifinal and final rounds of the playoff will be held as single-leg fixtures. The team that wins the playoff will be Africa’s representative in the intercontinental playoff. There, six teams from across the globe will be competing for the final two spots in the 2026 FIFA World Cup.

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