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World Cup football qualifiers: in South America it’s started

The qualifying series for the 2026 FIFA World Cup has started. In FIFA Zone CONMEBOL, the first standings are visible after the first two rounds. World champion Argentina is in the lead. With Lionel Messi in their midst, the Argentinians triumphed against Ecuador (1-0, September 7, 2023), as well as – without Messi – against Bolivia (0-3, September 12, 2023). Brazil also has the full number of points. After this, there are still sixteen rounds to go in the World Cup football qualification in South America. The countries in the other FIFA Zones will start their qualifying series for the final round of the FIFA World Cup in North America later.

In South America there is traditionally one qualifying group. All ten FIFA countries in this FIFA continent play against each other; both home and away. That makes a total of eighteen CONMEBOL qualifying matchdays.

CONMEBOL Qualification: battle for six 2026 World Cup tickets

The final round of play for the countries Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay and Venezuela is scheduled for September 2025. In addition to six countries that qualify directly for the 2026 World Cup from South America, for the number seven in the final standings there is a rematch. That nation will join the international play-offs in November 2025.

Messi starts World Cup qualifiers as match winner

World champion Argentina’s kick-off in the battle for qualification for the 2026 FIFA World Cup went fairly smoothly. Not one goal conceded, four goals scored: Lionel Messi himself against Ecuador, and Enzo Fernandez, Nicolas Tagliafico and Nicolas Gonzalez against Bolivia. Messi was missing in the last match: the Inter Miami star was rested due to a packed schedule. The next hurdle for Argentina is Peru, on October 18.

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In addition to Argentina, Brazil also started well

In the opening round of the CONMEBOL World Cup qualifiers, Brazil showed that it is much stronger than Bolivia: 5-1. Brazil also took the three points on Matchday 2, in Peru: 0-1. Together with Argentina, this football superpower is, for now, leaving the rest of the CONMEBOL countries behind.

The best of the rest is Colombia, which narrowly defeated Venezuela at home and kept the score at 0-0 in their away match against Chile. Uruguay, Venezuela and Ecuador also won their first match, at one of both first matchdays. Ecuador, however, still has to make do with 0 points in the CONMEBOL qualifying standings. This is due to a 3 point penalty for a previous administrative error. Paraguay and Peru are currently on one point, while Chile and Bolivia are still waiting for their first successful result.

South America: six nations qualify directly for World Cup 2026

In the qualifying zone of the South American Football Confederation, ten countries compete for six to seven tickets for the World Cup in North America, all in the same group. The numbers one through six qualify directly. The CONMEBOL country that finishes as number seven in the regular qualifying series will play the intercontinental play-offs in November 2025. These inter-confederation play-offs will be formed by six nations. The four (of the six) qualified countries that are, at that moment, lowest in the FIFA Ranking are linked by a draw. The two winners then play against the two countries that (of those six) are highest in the FIFA Ranking. Those two winners will eventually get the last World Cup 2026 tickets.

World Cup football qualifiers updates

While the FIFA Zone CONMEBOL has started World Cup qualifying first, the countries in the other FIFA Zones will have to wait a little longer. See the updates and state of affairs:

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World Cup Football Qualifiers North America, Central America, Caribbean

Qualification North America, Central America, Caribbean

In North America, Central America and the Caribbean, the FIFA qualifiers run from March 18, 2024 to November 18, 2025. Six, seven or eight of the 32 participating CONCACAF nations qualify, joining hosts USA, Canada and Mexico.

World Cup Football Qualifiers South America

FIFA World Cup football Qualification South America

In South America, the FIFA World Cup qualifiers run from September 7, 2023 to September 9, 2025. A total of 10 CONMEBOL nations participate. Six to seven South American countries will qualify. There is one single round.

World Cup Football Qualifiers Europe

FIFA World Cup football qualification Europe

In Europe, the qualifiers run from March 17, 2025 to March 31, 2026. A total of 55 (of 54) UEFA nations participate. Sixteen European countries will qualify. There is one group stage (Round 1), followed by the European play-offs.

World Cup Football Qualifiers Asia

FIFA World Cup football Qualification Asia

In Asia, the World Cup qualification runs from October 12, 2023 to November, 2025. A total of 46 AFC nations participate. Eight or nine Asian countries will qualify. There are three qualifying rounds, before the play-offs.

World Cup Football Qualifiers Africa

FIFA World Cup football Qualification Africa

In Africa, the World Cup football qualifiers run from November 13, 2023 to November 18, 2025. A total of 54 CAF nations participate. Nine or ten African countries will qualify. There are two qualification rounds.

World Cup Football Qualifiers Oceania

FIFA World Cup football Qualification Oceania

In Oceania, the FIFA qualifiers for the World Cup football run from September, 2024 to March, 2025. Eleven OFC nations participate. One or two Oceanic countries qualify. There are three qualification rounds.


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