Wasps train ahead of their encounter with the Warriors of Zimbabwe. Photo: Rwanda FA

An exciting week of football draws deliciously close as the African qualifying matches for the 2026 FIFA World Cup begin on Wednesday, November 15, across the continent.

A total of 54 African nations have been split into nine groups of six and will battle hard to claim the nine spots reserved for the continent at the tournament scheduled to be held in Canada, Mexico, and the United States from June 11 to July 19, 2026.

The number increased to nine from five after FIFA approved drafts to raise the number of participating countries at the tournament from 32 to 48 in May.

This has made the Confederation of African Football (CAF) change the rules on the qualifying routes to the World Cup by making all member nations slug it out in group qualification matches.

Nine group winners will qualify for the World Cup, with a possible tenth added after playing in an intercontinental play-off.

Nigeria's Super Eagles are in camp ahead of their clash with Lesotho. Photo: Nigeria Football Federation 

FIFA confirmed on November 3rd that Eritrea has withdrawn from the African qualifying matches for the 2026 World Cup with no reasons given.

Wednesday’s matches

In Group C, the Wasps of Rwanda will host the Warriors of Zimbabwe at 1:00 p.m. local time, while in Group A, the Walias of Ethiopia will clash with the Leone Stars of Sierra Leone on home turf at 7:00 p.m. local time.

The final between Les Léopards of DR Congo and the Dodos of Mauritania at 4:00 p.m. local time.

Team groupings

Group A: Egypt, Burkina Faso, Guinea-Bissau, Sierra Leone, Ethiopia, Djibouti

Group B: Senegal, DR Congo, Mauritania, Togo, Sudan, South Sudan

Group C: Nigeria, South Africa, Benin, Zimbabwe, Rwanda, Lesotho

Group D: Cameroon, Cape Verde, Angola, Libya, Eswatini, Mauritius

Group E: Morocco, Zambia, Congo, Tanzania, Niger

Group F: Ivory Coast, Gabon, Kenya, The Gambia, Burundi, Seychelles

Group G: Algeria, Guinea, Uganda, Mozambique, Botswana, Somalia

Group H: Tunisia, Equatorial Guinea, Namibia, Malawi, Liberia, Sao Tome and Principe

Group I: Mali, Ghana, Madagascar, Central African Republic, Comoros, Chad

The first two matches in each group will be played between November 15 and 21, while rounds three and four will take place next June.

TRT Afrika