15 December 2014

Azkals start 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifiers in June 2015, draw in April

2018 FIFA World Cup Qualfiers in Asia

First Round/Preliminary draw : 10. February 2015
Draw for the 12 lowest ranked countries in Asia . They meet in  home and away matches in March

Second Round draw : 11. April 2015
40 countries in Asia , 8 groups of 5.
Matches start in June. Philippines will be in First Round.

Sources : UAE and Japan FA website

Seedings will probably be based on FIFA rankings.

The qualification structure is as follows:
  • First round (Preliminary round): The lowest ranked teams will play home-and-away over two legs to reduce the total number of teams to 40.
  • Second round: The 40 teams will be divided into eight groups of five to play home-and-away round-robin matches, where the eight group winners and the four best group runners-up will advance to the third round of FIFA World Cup qualification as well as qualify for the AFC Asian Cup finals.
  • Third round: The 12 teams (an increase from 10 for 2014) will be divided into two groups of six to play home-and-away round-robin matches. Dependent on the number of qualifiers from the AFC, the top two teams of each group will qualify for the 2018 FIFA World Cup, and the two third placed teams will advance to the fourth round.
  • Fourth round: Dependent on the number of qualifiers from the AFC, the two third-placed teams in each group from the third round will play against each other home-and-away over two legs to determine which team will advance to the inter-confederation play-offs.

Source : Wikipedia


  1. Jonny, so what is the ranking of Philippines now in 2018 fifa world cup qualification? I assume they won't be in the first round, but what is your basis for saying so? I understand they were number 42 in 2014 qualifications, (because they didn't enter in 2006 and 2010 qualifying) and there should be slight improvement since then
    But it is highly unlikely that AFC will use this ranking system again if seeding will be based on the current FIFA rankings by the time AFC starts to pot the teams and not by means of previous qualifying performances, considering Philippines is currently one of Asia's "Top 20" teams based on fifa rankings

  2. I thought we would be in the second round.

    1. Yes, if you count the preliminary round as First round.

  3. 12 lowest ranked countries in the preliminary round , then the 6 winners and the other 34 teams play in First round.
    8 groups of 5 , which means 4 home and 4 away matches,

  4. Philippines will not play in the preliminary round now based on FIFA rankings. The twelve lowest ranked team will compete there in a home and away leg in MArch.
    Based on the FIFA ranking of November : Bhutan , Brunei , Mongolia, Taiwan, Macau , Timor-Leste, Pakistan , Cambodia, Nepal , Yemen , India and Sri Lanka. They will probably use December or January rankings to determine the 12 lowest ranked teams.
    Philippines is now ranked at 17 th in Asia, 5 pots of 8 , and Philippines will be in pot 3 now. They might use another month FIFA ranking to seed in first round than in the preliminaries , possibly March rankings, but nothing is confirmed yet about the seedings.

  5. hope our fifa rank gives us advantage here (which critics keeps pointing out that pff only cares for a useless ranking)

  6. with this format, we are going to see a 10-0 scorelines.

    1. o common lets watch football and be supportive

    2. Philippines never conceded more than 5 goals since that loss to Turkmenistan back in 2009
      UAE was the last team to beat Azkals in more than 3-0 scoreline, the finals score was 4-0 in 2013
      You might be talking about the old philippine national team, which conceded 12-0 to Syria in 2000 and 13-1 to Indonesia in 2002, those days are gone and it was a sark reminder of how football was very poor in this country before the miracle of hanoi

  7. AFC and FIFA is right now is biased on the Philippines side, even giving our national teams and the football clubs to have more chances to play. That's true, and somehow PFF should capitalize on this opportunity
    It may not be the basketball fans who are with us nor just the natural football haters, but AFC and FIFA are awed at how we rose in rankings and performances ever since that miracle of Hanoi, how we finally matched our Asian peers' playing quality in just FOUR years, unlike others who have decades of grassroots programs and can't make any progress. now with more youngsters playing and nationwide grassroots programs expect the future azkals becoming one of the top 10 in Asia (just like what Kuwait FA is expecting us in five years since they said that - 2011)

    1. Don't get too excited by a random lip service. Vietnam, Thailand, and even India are often told such kind of sweet lip services by foreign football officials or media but no one takes it literally. Face the reality. South East Asia region is still considered as whipping boys by Asian powerhouses, and we are still far from dominating the region. Top 10? It's too early to talk about it.

      Though it's true that we've improved fast by far, it was thanks to an unusual therapy using foreign products and now, as you said, we have to develop our own grassroots program to make further progress which will never be as easy. You said "others have decades of grassroots programs and can't make any progress", but when you put it another way, it just proves how fierce the international football competition is. Actually, it's not that they don't make progress. They do, but stronger countries make even more progress meanwhile not to be caught up.

      I'm not saying we should not have hopeful thinking. Optimism is good, but we should be aware that it's gonna take a great effort and time from now to catch up with real football powerhouses in Asia, regardless of how fast and easy it has been so far.