FIFA World Cup Qualifiers

Historic day for SAFF as nations shine at World Cup qualifiers

Keshava VermaKeshava Verma
October 18 2023
SAFF nations in 2026 FIFA World Cup & 2027 AFC Asian CUP Qualifiers

A total of three teams have joined India in Round 2 of the FIFA World Cup 2026 and AFC Asian 2027 Joint Qualifiers 

On Tuesday, the second leg of the Round 1 FIFA World Cup 2026 and AFC Asian Cup 2027 Joint Qualifiers were played, amongst which all nations of the South Asian Football Federations, except India (who have already qualified) competed. 

The list of results after today’s qualifiers, have drawn out a fantastic outcome for the SAFF, as out of the six teams which have competed today, a total of four teams have qualified for the second round of the FIFA World Cup 2026 and AFC Asian 2027 Joint  qualifiers.

Former Indian national team head coach Stephen Constantine helped Pakistan make history by earning the Falcons their first ever World Cup Qualifiers win, after securing a fantastic victory against Cambodia, with an aggregate score of 1-0. Having arrived earlier this month, Constantine has already delivered for the Pakistan national team, and the future seems bright for the Falcons, with the veteran Englishman at the helm.

Bangladesh also earned qualification after a hard fought game against Maldives with an aggregate scoreline of 3-2. Maldives will now compete in the playoffs of the third round of the 2027 AFC Asian Cup qualifiers.

Also, former Northeast United head coach Vincenzo Alberto Annese, has helped Nepal secure a place in the second round of the FIFA World Cup 2026 and AFC Asian 2027 Joint qualifiers, with an aggregate scoreline of 2-1. They will now face UAE, Bahrain & Yemen in round 2.

202nd ranked Sri Lanka also drew 1-1 with Yemen after losing out 3-0 in the first leg, and will join Maldives in the third round playoffs of the 2027 AFC Asian Cup. Bhutan on the other hand, registered a historic 2-0 win over Hong Kong, but unfortunately couldn’t qualify due to a 4-0 first leg defeat. The Dragon Boys have however qualified directly for the group stages of the third round qualifiers of the 2027 AFC Asian cup.

These incredible performances by all nations of the South Asian Football Federation, have helped mark a historic day for the federation, and has brought them pride and honour at the continental stage.

To add to the list of positives, current SAARC members Afghanistan, who have also previously featured in SAFF competitions, have also made it to the next round of qualifiers after a comfortable victory against Mongolia. The Afghanistan, Mongolia tie ended 2-0 in favour of Afghanistan.

Pakistan will now be placed in group G, whereas Nepal and Bangladesh will compete in group H and I respectively. India and Afghanistan are placed in the same group – A.

Here are the groups for the FIFA World Cup 2026 and AFC Asian Cup Saudi Arabia 2027 Preliminary Joint Qualification Round 2 tie:

Group A: Qatar, India, Kuwait, Afghanistan

Group B: Japan, Syria, North Korea, Myanmar

Group C: South Korea, China, Thailand, Singapore

Group D: Oman, Krygyztan, Malaysia, Chinese Taipei

Group E: Iran, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Hong Kong

Group F: Iraq, Vietnam, Philippines, Indonesia

Group G: Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Tajikistan, Pakistan

Group H: UAE, Bahrain, Yemen, Nepal

Group I: Australia, Palestine, Lebanon, Bangladesh

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