- Qualifying for the 2026 World Cup has already started in Asia
- There were some huge total scores in the first qualifying round
- Listen to the latest episode of the Mail Sport podcast ‘It all begins!’
The 2026 World Cup is still 968 days away, but for some teams the dreams of qualification have already faded.
While most confederations haven’t started qualifying for a while (UEFA’s process starts in March 2025), one of them has already wielded the axe.
Ten teams playing in the Asian qualifying stages saw their hopes dashed after a brutal first knockout round.
Guam became the first country to be eliminated when it lost 3–1 on aggregate to Singapore.
A 2-1 defeat in Singapore last Thursday was followed by a 1-0 defeat at home today, with Dane Jacob Augustin sent off to add to the misery.
The Micronesian island is ranked 203rd in the world and only had an outside chance of making the 2026 tournament in Canada, Mexico and the United States, but they will still feel the pain.
Guam became the first country to be eliminated from qualifying for the 2026 World Cup
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For a few hours they were the only team eliminated, but others have now followed suit.
Maldives, Cambodia, Mongolia, Bhutan, Macau, Laos, Brunei, East Timor and Sri Lanka join Guam in the top ten losers.
They will not benefit from the generously expanded format for 2026, in which 48 teams will participate.
The most notable players in the first qualifying round were Indonesia, which crushed Brunei 12-0 over two legs.
Chinese Taipei (Taiwan) also progressed in style with a 7-0 aggregate win over East Timor.
Pakistan won its first ever qualifying match with a 1-0 win over Cambodia.
The second round of qualifying in Asia kicks off in November and sees the introduction of many major players, including Australia, Japan and South Korea, into a group stage.
The winners and losers of the first round of the Asian qualifying
*All results concern two stages
Singapore 3-1 Guam
Afghanistan 2-0 Mongolia
Pakistan 1-0 Cambodia
Yemen 4-1 Sir Lanka
Chinese Taipei (Taiwan) 4-1 East Timor
Myanmar 5-1 Macau
Bangladesh 3-2 Maldives
Nepal 2-1 Laos
Hong Kong 4-2 Bhutan
Indonesia 12-0 Brunei