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FIFA grants World Cup spot for Oceania

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 9/05/2017

Qualifying for the World Cup will become significantly easier for the All Whites after FIFA confirmed its slot allocation for the 2026 tournament and beyond.

The Oceania champions will qualify directly to the expanded 48-team tournament, the world governing body ratified at its congress in Bahrain.

All six confederations will have greater representation at the enlarged global showpiece, after it was increased from 32 teams.

Europe will have the most with 16 teams qualifying directly, up from 13, while Oceania's lone representative is the least.

It is nevertheless an easier pathway for New Zealand, who are a dominant force in the smallest confederation which has been awarded a "half" slot for the most recent World Cups.

They beat Bahrain in a two-leg play-off to qualify for the 2010 World Cup but were well beaten by Mexico to miss the 2014 event.

This year they face the daunting task of beating the fifth-ranked South American side if they are to qualify for next year's World Cup.

Under the new structure, the Oceania runners-up will also be in contention to qualify.

They will take part in a six-team tournament which would take place in the World Cup host nation

That tournament would include one team from each confederation, except Europe, and an extra one from the continent of the host country.

World Cup slot allocations:

Europe 16 teams, Africa 9, Asia 8, South America 6, CONCACAF 6, Oceania 1 (Two places determined in an inter-confederation play-off).

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