Are the 2026 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers a new era for African Football?

This week on the African Five-a-side podcast, we take a look at the kick off of the African qualifiers for the 2026 FIFA World Cup.

Spain-Morocco match, Group B, 2018 FIFA World Cup. Credit Westpress Kaliningrad Media Group via Wikimedia Commons CC BY-SA 4.0 Deed.

This week on the African Five-a-side podcast, we have a two editions of the African Football Roundup, adding a special extra episode as we preview the 2026 FIFA World Cup qualifiers in Africa and recap the handful of matches that have already been played. Matchday 1 will resume next week!

Throughout the history of the FIFA World Cup, Africa has often found itself underrepresented. In 1966, the African continent boycotted the World Cup in England to send a message to FIFA that it demanded a guaranteed place at the tournament, which it subsequently secured in 1970.

Over the subsequent three decades, African teams etched their names in history with remarkable upsets—Algeria stunning West Germany, Morocco overcoming Portugal, and Cameroon making waves against Argentina. Despite these achievements, FIFA’s allocation of World Cup slots remained conservative, with two in 1982, three in 1994, and five in 1998.

Now, nearly a century after the inaugural World Cup in Uruguay, Africa is set to receive a more equitable allocation, with nine and a half spots up for grabs in the 2026 tournament. Qualifying has commenced, ushering in a new era for African representation on the global stage. The expanded format prompts a crucial question: is nine and a half the optimal number for ensuring fair representation and competitiveness for African teams?

In addition to dissecting this new format, we’ll provide a comprehensive summary of Thursday’s action, featuring riveting David vs. Goliath matchups. Egypt faced Djibouti, Algeria took on Somalia, and Nigeria clashed with Lesotho. Listen below or watch on YouTube, and subscribe on your preferred podcast platform.


Also, earlier this week we discussed the second leg of the African Football League final between Wydad Casablanca and Mamelodi Sundowns. We reflected on how Rhulani Mokwena passed his toughest test with flying colors and what that means for his future. I also justify how I voted for Club of the Year during the 2023 CAF Awards, name our team of the week, and highlight the performances of Ivorian defenders who could be stalwarts for the host nation at the upcoming Africa Cup of Nations.

Further Reading

After the World Cup is gone

The book, “Africa’s World Cup,” is a valuable source for thinking more deeply about the meanings and legacies of the 2010 edition of the competition hosted in South Africa.

Africa’s World Cup

Binyavanga Wainaina and Teju Cole are among those on a panel discussing the historic 2010 World Cup to be held in South Africa; the first time on the continent.