The 2022 World Cup in Qatar will be the first to be held in an Arab country and the last to include 32 teams.
Rabat – The Confederation of African Football (CAF) has announced the new format for African nations hoping to qualify for the World Cup 2022.
The format is different from the 2018 World Cup in Russia, however, it is the same as the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
The CAF determined three phases for World Cup 2022 qualification:
- The first phase is the preliminary round. The 26 highest FIFA ranked teams will be exempted from this step, leaving 28 national teams to compete for qualification. Of the 28 remaining teams, the 14 highest FIFA ranked teams will play against the lowest ranked teams. During this first leg, the lowest FIFA ranked teams will play at home.
- The second phase is the group stage where the 14 teams qualified from the preliminary round will join the exempted 26 teams, making teams. The 40 teams will be divided into 10 groups of 4 teams.
The 40 teams will be divided into 4 levels according to the FIFA ranking. Each of the 10 groups will include a team from each level.
- The third phase is the knock-out stage in which the 10 winning teams from the group stage will be divided into 2 levels according to their FIFA ranking. The five highest ranked teams will play against the five lowest ranked teams, with lowest ranked teams playing at home.
In 2018, the CAF used a different system for World Cup qualification. The system consisted of two knock-out stages and a group stage.
The group stage included twenty teams divided into 5 groups.
The highest ranked team of each group qualified directly to the World Cup, namely Morocco, Nigeria, Tunisia, Senegal, and Egypt.
The 2022 Qatar World Cup will be the last to contain 32 teams. Future World Cups will feature 48 teams competing for the most prestigious title in football.