UAE's forward Ali Mabkhout Al Hajeri
UAE forward Ali Mabkhout (right) will have his task cut out if they have to win the remaining four matches in the World Cup qualifiers to progress to the next round. Image Credit: AP

Dubai: How many teams can qualify from the Asian continent for Qatar 2022? Apart from Qatar – who have qualified automatically as hosts – a total of 4.5 slots (four direct slots and one inter-confederation play-off slot) are available for teams from Asia.

The qualifying process involves four rounds, where the first two rounds double up as the qualification for the 2023 AFC Asian Cup to be hosted by China in June-July, 2023. Despite qualifying as hosts, Qatar are participating in the first two rounds to obtain their Asian Cup qualification.

irst Round: 12 teams (ranked 35 to 46) played home-and-away over two legs and the six winners advanced to the second round.

Second Round: 40 teams (ranked 1 to 34 and the six first-round winners) were divided into eight groups of five teams to play home-and-away round-robin matches that will conclude on June 9. The eight group winners and the four best group runners-up will advance to the third round of the 2022 Fifa World Cup qualification while also qualifying for the 2023 AFC Asian Cup finals. Should Qatar finish as group winners or one of the best four runners-up, the fifth-best runners-up will take their place in the third round.

Third Round: The 12 teams which will have advanced from the second round will be then divided into two groups of six teams each to play home-and-away round-robin matches. The top two teams of each group will qualify for the 2022 FIFA World Cup, while the third-placed teams will advance to the fourth round.

Fourth Round: The two third-placed teams from the third round will play home and away over two legs with the winner advancing to the inter-confederation play-offs.

The UAE currently lie in fourth place with six points in Group G of the second round of qualifying behind Vietnam (11 points), Malaysia (9) and Thailand (8) for the 2022 FIifa World Cup Qatar. Their next match will be at home against Malaysia on March 26 followed by an away game against Indonesia (March 31) and the last two at home against Thailand (June 4) and Vietnam (June 9).