Black Stars of Ghana’s pathway to the 2026 FIFA World Cup

Black Stars of Ghana’s pathway to the 2026 FIFA World Cup
Credit: Icon Sport

The Black Stars of Ghana and 53 other African teams under the Confederation of African Football (CAF) have discovered their groups for the 2026 FIFA World Cup qualifiers tournament.

The draw was conducted on 13 July in Ivory Coast, the host nation of the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations.

The Ghana national football team were drawn into Group I alongside Mali, Madagascar, Central Africa Republic, Comoros and Chad.

They will compete for the nine guaranteed spots allotted to Africa by FIFA in the new format of the global showpiece, which the United States of America, Mexico and Canada will host.

The CAF 2026 FIFA World Cup qualifiers groups

Nine groups of six teams each will compete in the African qualifiers for the 2026 FIFA World Cup in USA, Mexico and Canada.

It is the first edition of the new format approved by the world football governing body, FIFA, just before the 2022 finals in Qatar last December.

CAF conducted the draw for the qualifiers tournament after its 45th General Assembly, which was also attended by FIFA president Gianni Infantino. African football legends Emmanuel Eboue, Emmanuel Adebayor, Wael Gomaa and Alexandre Song assisted in the draw.

Former Super Eagles captain Austin ‘Jay Jay' Okocha, who is rumoured to be Nigeria's next sports minister, also assisted in the draw alongside recently retired Black stars legend Asamoah Gyan.

The qualifiers start in November and the winners of the nine groups will qualify automatically for the global showpiece. The four best runners-up from the groups will then proceed to play in a CAF Play-Off tournament. The winner of that tournament will join teams from all over the world in a FIFA Play-off tournament to potentially be the 10th African nation at the 2026 World Cup.

Ghana have Mali as their major competition in Group I but recent African tournaments, including the AFCON qualifiers 2023 games have shown that everything is not always what it seems.

The next section of this article takes a look at Ghana's chances in the qualifiers.

Ghana's chances in Group I

Mali, Madagascar, Central Africa Republic, Comoros and Chad all stand in the way of Ghana as they look to make it to their fifth FIFA World Cup.

Mali are ranked 10th, one place above Ghana (11th) in the FIFA CAF men's national team rankings. On the FIFA overall rankings, Mali are ranked 53rd, seven places above the Black Stars (60th).

This gap in quality could prove a challenge for the Black Stars, who will focus on winning their matches against their other group opponents Madagascar (110th in FIFA, 25 in CAF), CAR (122 in FIFA, 32 in CAF), Comoros (131 in FIFA, 39 in CAF) and Chad (181 in FIFA, 49 in CAF).

The fixtures list could also play into their hands in their bid to make a second consecutive World Cup appearance.

The length of the tournament could also help Chris Hughton identify a solid crop of players who can go toe to toe with Mali and their new core of France-born and trained players.

This article was most recently revised and updated 9 months ago

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