Bangladesh won a direct entry in the Fifa World Cup 2018 Qualifiers as per the new regulations introduced by the world football’s governing body Fifa. The new system dubbed as the Preliminary Joint Qualifiers officially reached the Bangladesh Football Federation yesterday.
As per the new regulations the first 34 ranked teams of the current 46 members of Asian Football Confederation will play in the World Cup 2018 Qualifiers directly. The remaining 12 teams will have to play the play-offs from where six winners will join the aforesaid 34 to complete the 40-team qualifying process. The 12 teams to feature in the play-offs are India (ranked 35), Sri Lanka, Yemen, Cambodia, Chinese Taipei, Timor Leste, Nepal, Macau, Pakistan, Mongolia, Brunei, Darus Salam and Bhutan.
The 40 teams will be split across eight groups and eight group winners along with the best four runner-ups will play in the final round of the World Cup qualifiers from where the top three will get the direct tickets while the fourth will play the play-off against Oceania Zone champions. The top 12 will also enjoy the added advantage of qualifying for the Asian Cup 2019.
Fifa has allotted 10 match-day slots starting from June 2015 to March 2016 to complete the eight matches. It ensures Bangladesh eight fully competitive international matches within next 14 months.
After completing the World Cup qualifiers the remaining 28 teams will get engaged in the 2019 Asian Cup qualifiers. However it would be a 24-team process and the 25th, 26th, 27th and 28th ranked teams will be left out. Currently 16 teams play in the Asian Cup but AFC has decided to make it a 24-team competition from the next edition.
With the new format Bangladesh would also have to get adapted with the demands of the time. At least for the next one year the BFF have to maintain a full fledged national team forgetting the temporary camps. “We will have to chalk out new programs and get ready to meet the demands, the new door has opened and BFF will not sit idle instead of grabbing the opportunities,” said Abu Naeem Shohag, the general secretary of BFF.
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