Eritrea withdraws from qualifying for 2026 World Cup days before first game against Morocco

ZURICH (AP) — Eritrea has withdrawn from African qualifying for the 2026 World Cup just days before its opening game against Morocco, FIFA confirmed Friday.

Eritrea last played an international game almost four years ago but was scheduled to open its qualifying program against Morocco next week. Morocco coach Walid Regragui on Thursday acknowledged that the game in Agadir likely would not go ahead.

"All of Eritrea’s matches have been canceled, while the rest of the match schedule for Group E remains unchanged,” FIFA said Friday.

Morocco, the 2022 World Cup semifinalist, is favored to advance from the group that includes Niger, Republic of Congo, Tanzania and Zambia.

Only teams that finish top in the nine African groups will advance directly to the 2026 World Cup being hosted by the United States, Canada and Mexico.

A 10th African team can qualify for the inaugural 48-team World Cup through inter-continental playoffs in March 2026.


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