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CAF approves qualifying format for 2026 FIFA World Cup, announces 2023 CAF Women’s Champions League host

Following an Executive Committee meeting on Thursday in the Confederation of African Football (CAF), the format of Africa’s qualifying competition for the 2026 FIFA World Cup was approved and announced. The winners of nine groups with six teams in each group will represent the continent at the next edition of the World Cup co-hosted by the United States, Mexico and Canada. The top four runners-up in the groups will take part in a single elimination mini-tournament known as the “CAF Play-Off Tournament” where the winner will progress to a FIFA intercontinental playoff where two nations out of six participants will qualify.

CAF announced that the draw for the 2026 World Cup qualifying competition will be carried out on June 12 in Cotonou, Benin the night before CAF’s Ordinary General Assembly. The African footballing body released the schedule of qualifying as well with the first matchdays occurring November 13 through November 21.

In addition, CAF announced Ivory Coast as the host of the 2023 Africa Women’s Champions League following the Executive Committee as well. The West African nation has been given the hosting responsibility to test out the country’s facilities before Ivory Coast hosts the 2023 edition of the Africa Cup of Nations that will be played in early 2024.

The schedule for 2026 FIFA World Cup qualifying in the CAF region is below.

Matchday 1 & 2: November 13-21, 2023

Matchday 3 & 4: June 3-11, 2024

Matchday 5 & 6: March 17-25, 2025

Matchday 7 & 8: September 1-9, 2025

Matchday 9 & 10: October 6-14, 2025

CAF Playoff Tournament: November 10-18, 2025

FIFA Intercontinental Playoff: March 2026

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