UAE 2026 World Cup qualifiers


The UAE is gearing up for a historic opportunity to qualify for the 2026 FIFA World Cup, their first chance since their debut appearance in 1990. In the upcoming third phase of Asia’s qualifiers, they find themselves grouped with Iran, Qatar, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, and North Korea in Group A. This phase, commencing from September 5 and concluding on June 10, features eighteen Asian teams competing for eight coveted spots in the finals hosted jointly by Mexico, the United States, and Canada.

The qualifying format splits the teams into three groups of six. The top two teams from each group secure direct qualification, while the third and fourth-placed teams will progress to a fourth round, where six teams will vie for the remaining two automatic spots.

Under the guidance of head coach Paulo Bento, the UAE exhibited strong form in the second round, topping Group H with an impressive 16 points from six matches. Their journey in the third round begins with a significant clash against Iran on September 10. Iran, aiming for their fourth consecutive World Cup appearance and seventh overall, will face stiff competition from Qatar, eager to qualify for their first-ever World Cup after winning consecutive Asian Cup titles.

Elsewhere in the qualifiers, Japan, four-time Asian champions, will confront familiar adversaries in Group A, including Australia, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, China, and Indonesia. South Korea, another regional powerhouse, will contend with Iraq, Jordan, Oman, Palestine, and Kuwait in Group B.

For China, the road to their first World Cup since their sole appearance in 2002 looks challenging, while South Korea seeks to assert dominance despite facing strong opposition from Jordan, who defeated them in this year’s Asian Cup semifinals.

Overall, Asia’s 2026 World Cup qualifiers promise intense competition and compelling narratives as teams vie for their places on football’s grandest stage.

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By- Sahiba Suri

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