It’s the event which makes the world to talk & discuss about it over two long months. It’s the event which every nation wants to compete and participate for once at least. This event, also makes the footballing countries to be broken down into two categories, the one which regularly qualifies, will look for qualifying again and to lift the world cup trophy. The other category is the one which has never qualified or qualified a few times, tries to qualify for the mega event, to make an announcement of themselves of their arrival on the footballing map, Iceland and Panama being an example of previous edition in this category.
But, this event comes every four years, the nations participating in it are decided in between these 4 years. There are certain number of teams allocated per confederation. The world of football is divided into 6 confederations, namely – our own, Asian Football Confederation (AFC) which receives 4.5+1(Qatar as hosts) slots ( we will explain about that .5 later), Confederation of African Football (CAF) receives 5 slots, Oceania Football Confederation (OFC) receives 0.5 slots, The North American confederation – CONCACAF receives 3.5 slots , Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) receives whooping 13 slots.
The allocation of slots for each confederation was discussed by the FIFA Executive Commitment on 30 May 2015 in Zürich after the FIFA Congress. The committee decided that the same allocation as 2006 would be kept for the 2010, 2014, 2018 and 2022 tournaments.
Let’s now see how does this work in our confederation.
The Round-1 :
This round includes the teams ranked 35-46 in AFC competing against each other in two legged format. 35-40 ranked teams were seeded in pot 1 and 41-46 ranked teams were seeded in pot 2. Each tie contained a team from Pot A and a team from Pot B, with the team from Pot A hosting the first leg. The teams ranked 1-34 got BYE to the second round. A total of 6 teams progressed from this round. The losing 6 teams will participate in AFC Solidarity Cup
The round-2 :
This round acts as joint Qualifiers for World cup and AFC Asian cup.
The teams ranked 1-34 along with the 6 winners from round-1 will participate in this round. So, a total of 40 teams will be drawn into 8 groups of 5 teams in each group. ( For example : A team will be picked randomly from pot 1 which consists of teams ranked 1-8 according to June 2019 FIFA rankings. Similarly, other teams from pot 2,3,4&5 will be picked randomly and will be placed in Group 1, eventually forming 5 teams in a group. This process will continue until 8 groups are formed. A team cannot face another team which is placed in it’s own pot.)
We will have 5 teams each in all groups, will play in home and away legged basis. A total of 8 group toppers along with best 4 group runners up will participate in the round 3 of the FIFA world cup Qualifiers, totalling it to 12 teams participating in Round-3.
AFC Asian cup 2023 Qualifiers :
All 12 teams which progress to round 3 of FIFA world cup Qualifiers, will also qualify for the AFC Asian cup 2023. The worst 4 group runners up along with all the third placed teams & 4 best 4th placed teams, won’t make it to FIFA world cup and will participate in Round-3 of the AFC Asian cup Qualifiers. Whereas all the 5th placed teams and 4 worst 4th placed teams will play Play-off round against each other one home and away legged basis, out of which 6 teams will make it to the third round of AFC Asian cup Qualifiers.
AFC Solidarity cup :
The 6 losers in first round + the losers in Play-off round of AFC Asian cup Qualifiers will participate in AFC Solidarity cup.
The round 3 as discussed will consist of 8 group toppers and 4 best group runners up from Round-2. Two groups are formed consisting of 6 team each, who play against each other in home and away games. The top two teams from each group will make it to the FIFA world cup 2022. The third placed teams in each group will participate in round 4. Rest teams will be eliminated and will participate in AFC Asian cup 2023.
The two teams which are placed in third position in their respective groups, will play this round against each other in home and away format. The winner on aggregate score will progress to the Interconfederation Play-off.
Interconfederation Play-offs :
This the round where the 0.5 slot discussed earlier comes into play. This is the virtual 5th round for the world cup Qualifier for an Asian team. The winner of 4th round from AFC will participate in this along with 3 others from 3 different confederations. As mentioned earlier, CONCACAF gets 3.5 slots , AFC gets 4.5 , CONMEBOL gets 4.5 and ofc gets 0.5 slots. All the 4 teams who have progressed in similar fashion as the AFC 4th round winner, will participate in this round.
One team will play another in home and away format. Winner will participate in the FIFA world cup 2023.
Last time Australia played against Honduras in interconfederation playoffs and Australia came out as winners which eventually won them world cup 2018 ticket.
The world cup qualifier have always surprised us , last time it was Singapore who came against all odds and drew an away game against Japan with their brilliant defending and goalkeeping. Guam who were in our pot drew 1-1 with Oman & won against Turkmenistan & India by 2-1 margin in their home games. A team from pot 3 – Thailand qualified for the third round too in the previous edition. Can India with their new look lineup are good enough to finish atleast second in their group battling all odds or will they fail miserably like Constantine’s 11 did in the last time who won just one game, that being against Guam at home by 1-0 margin. Regardless of the performance we will learn about our group mates today. What’s your prediction? Comment down.
Watch the draw event in the link given below at 2.30 PM IST.