The Confederation of African Football (CAF) has introduced a revamped format for the qualification process leading up to the 2026 FIFA World Cup, aiming to elevate African football.
The new format includes a single stage of qualification that will span almost two years and involve all 54 African nations divided into nine groups of six teams each. The group winners will qualify automatically, while the four best second-placed teams will enter a playoff stage for an additional spot.
The qualification campaign will begin in November 2023 and conclude in November 2025, lasting a total of 23 months. This extended timeframe allows for a more comprehensive and competitive qualifying process. African nations, including Uganda, see the increased slots as a golden opportunity to make history, as no team from the CECAFA region has ever participated in the World Cup.
The 2026 World Cup, hosted by the United States, Canada, and Mexico, will feature 104 matches instead of the usual 64, with the final taking place on July 19. The new format will have 12 groups instead of the previous eight, and the knockout round will include the top two teams from each group, as well as the eight best third-placed teams.