Sri Lanka has been drawn against Yemen in the Preliminary Joint Qualification Round 1 for the FIFA World Cup 2026 and AFC Asian Cup Saudi Arabia 2027 at the AFC House in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on Thursday.
Sri Lanka, who is currently serving out a ban, will only be able to participate in the qualifiers if they fulfill the conditions laid out by FIFA – Sports Minister accepts FIFA conditions; Sri Lanka into World Cup qualifiers
A total 20 teams were divided into 10 pairings, with each pair to play one home and one away match on October 12 and 17, 2023 respectively.
Afghanistan were drawn to play Mongolia while Maldives will face Bangladesh. Singapore and Guam will square off for a place in Round 2 with Yemen playing Sri Lanka and Myanmar to meet Macau.
Cambodia were drawn against Pakistan, Chinese Taipei will meet Timor-Leste and Indonesia will face off against Brunei Darussalam. The remaining two fixtures saw Hong Kong, China pitted against Bhutan while Nepal will face Laos.
The 10 winners of Round 1 will proceed to Round 2, where they will be joined by the remaining 26 teams, with the draw to be conducted later on Thursday (27).
These 36 sides will be drawn into nine groups of four, competing against each team in a home-and-away round-robin format, between November 2023 and June 2024.
- Sports Minister accepts FIFA conditions; Sri Lanka into World Cup qualifiers
- Sports Minister suspends Sri Lanka Football
- 3 conditions to get the FIFA ban lifted
- FIFA bans Sri Lanka Football
- Injunction order lifted but court case to be held on 21st February
- Temporary interim injunction against Sri Ranga & Co.
All nine group winners and the respective runners-up will advance to the third round of World Cup qualifying, and at the same time seal their places at the AFC Asian Cup Saudi Arabia 2027.
The draw for the third round of the global showpiece in 2026 will be conducted in 2024, where the 18 teams will be divided into three groups of six; the top two from each group will qualify directly for the FIFA World Cup 2026. The other two direct AFC entrants will be determined in the fourth round of World Cup qualifying, with one more possible berth available via an Intercontinental Playoff.
The other 18 teams from Round 2 will proceed directly to the third and final round of AFC Asian Cup qualifying. More details on the latter qualifying stages will be released in due course.
Meanwhile, as decided by the AFC Competitions Committee at its first meeting on July 1, 2023, Northern Mariana Islands, while not involved in Thursday’s draw, are eligible to participate in the qualifiers of the AFC Asian Cup Saudi Arabia 2027™ but not the FIFA World Cup 2026.
The Pacific Islanders could feature in the AFC Asian Cup by entering the Qualifiers Playoff Stage, where they will join the losing teams from the Preliminary Joint Qualification Round 1 (PJQR1) to contest for a place in the AFC Asian Cup™ 2027 Qualifiers Final Round.
Round 1 Fixtures
Afghanistan v Mongolia
Maldives v Bangladesh
Singapore v Guam
Yemen v Sri Lanka
Myanmar v Macau
Cambodia v Pakistan
Chinese Taipei v Timor Leste
Indonesia v Brunei Darussalam
Hong Kong v Bhutan
Nepal v Laos