ZIMBABWE has been placed in one of the 2026 Fifa World Cup qualifying draw pots ahead of the expected lifting of its ban by the World governing body.
A delegation from Fifa, Caf and Cosafa are currently in the country, which is their second visit in just over two months, as they finalise plans for Zimbabwe's readmission into the global football family.
Zimbabwe was suspended by Fifa in February 2022 after the Sports and Recreation Commission (SRC) had dissolved the Zifa board.
The world governing body had insisted on the reinstatement of the Felton Kamambo-led board as one of the five conditions for the country to be readmitted back into the international football community.
It appears they have since softened their stance and sources yesterday told NewsDaySport that Fifa has struck a “compromise deal” with the warring parties that will see Zimbabwe play organised football again.
The Fifa, Caf and Cosafa joint delegation which has been in the country since Monday, has reportedly come up with a position after meeting with officials from the SRC, Sports ministry and the ousted Kamambo board.
While Fifa is expected to announce the position on Zimbabwe after their council meeting early next week, Caf has probably given the biggest hint so far that the impasse has been resolved and the country will be readmitted.
According to online reports, Caf has come up with the format and the draw pots for the 2026 Fifa World Cup qualifiers, with Zimbabwe part of the process.
- Mavhunga puts DeMbare into Chibuku quarterfinals
- Bulls to charge into Zimbabwe gold stocks
- Ndiraya concerned as goals dry up
- Letters: How solar power is transforming African farms
The official draw for the Fifa World Cup 2026 African qualifiers is slated for Wednesday.
The draw will feature six pots based on the latest Fifa rankings, providing a fair allocation of teams. Teams ranked within the top eight by Caf will be placed in pot one.
Zimbabwe, which has been slipping down the rankings due to inactivity, finds itself in Pot 4 together with Mozambique, The Gambia, Sierra Leone, Togo, Tanzania, Central African Republic, Malawi and Libya.
Fifa has increased Africa’s direct tickets from five to nine, allowing more African representation at the World Cup jamboree.
The new format, approved by the Caf executive committee in May, will see the 54 member associations divided into nine groups, each comprising six teams.
Under this new format, matches will be played on a round-robin basis within the groups.
After match day 10, the top team from each group will secure automatic qualification to the 2026 World Cup, to be co-hosted by the United States, Mexico and Canada. This expansion in Africa’s quota presents a tremendous opportunity for more nations to showcase their talent on the global stage.
Additionally, the best four second-placed teams from across all nine groups will enter a continental play-off. This play-off will determine one winner to proceed to a second and final play-off. In the final play-off, this African representative will compete against six teams from different confederations to secure one of the remaining two spots for the World Cup.
The Caf World Cup qualifiers are scheduled to kick off in November this year, with the first two matches slated for between November 13 and 21. Subsequently, the third and fourth match days are set for June 2024. The final match will be held during the week of October 6-14. The continental play-off, which will feature the top four second-placed teams, is planned for November 10-18, 2025. The venue for this crucial play-off will be communicated at a later date.
Finally, the Fifa play-off tournament is scheduled for March 2026, culminating in the selection of the final teams for the World Cup.
In the previous edition of the World Cup held in Qatar, Africa was represented by Morocco, Senegal, Cameroon, Ghana, and Tunisia. While Morocco achieved a historic semi-final berth, the other teams faced challenges and couldn’t progress beyond their respective group stages. The upcoming 2026 qualifiers provide an opportunity for African nations to regroup, strategise, and showcase their footballing prowess on the global stage.
Below are the pots for the 2026 Fifa World Cup qualifiers:
Pot 1: Nigeria, Morocco, Senegal, Algeria, Tunisia, Cameroon, Mali, Egypt
Pot 2: Ghana, Burkina Faso, South Africa, Cape Verde, DR Congo, Guinea, Zambia, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea
Pot 3: Angola, Benin, Kenya, Mauritania, Congo, Uganda, Madagascar, Guinea Bissau, Namibia
Pot 4: Mozambique, Gambia, Sierra Leone, Togo, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Central African Republic, Malawi, Libya
Pot 5: Niger, Comoros, Sudan, Rwanda, Burundi, Ethiopia, Eswatini, Botswana, Liberia
Pot 6: Lesotho, South Sudan, Mauritius, Chad, Sao Tome, Djibouti, Seychelles, Eritrea, Somalia
- Follow us on Twitter @NewsDayZimbabwe