. Asian and African countries often drew attention from fans by directing scenes that suppressed traditional soccer powerhouses such as Europe and South America. In the World Cup in North and Central America four years later, when the number of participating countries increases from 32 to 48, this kind of surprise may happen more often.
Looking at the continental distribution of the countries that made it to the round of 16 in this tournament, Europe had the most with 8 teams, followed by Asia (3 teams), South America, Africa (above 2 teams), and North and Central America (1 team). Compared to four years ago, it can be seen that Asia and Africa have made great progress. During the 2018 World Cup in Russia, Europe advanced a whopping 12 teams to the round of 16. It was followed by South America with three teams, and Japan was the only Asian country to make the list. Africa suffered the humiliation of being eliminated from the group stage by all five teams that participated in the finals.
On the other hand, in this tournament, the Asian sensation led by Japan, Korea, and Australia was added to the African fever led by Morocco and Senegal, and the strong players struggled.
In Group F, which was called the group of death, Japan caused a great change by beating Germany and Spain and advancing to the top of the group. Australia, although tied in the same group as France and Denmark, beat Denmark to advance to the round of 16 as runner-up in the group. Morocco made history by becoming the first African team to advance to the semifinals after advancing to the round of 16 as an undefeated leader in the group while competing against Belgium and Croatia. Although they did not advance to the round of 16, Saudi Arabia delivered a shock by defeating champions Argentina in the first match of the group stage.
Europe, pushed by their progress, had 4 fewer teams in the round of 16 than at the World Cup in Russia. South America also saved face by advancing to the round of 16 with two teams, Argentina and Brazil.
As each continent showed a balanced appearance, FIFA President Gianni Infantino said, “It was the best ever. There are no more strong or weak teams. For the first time in history, we reached the round of 16 on every continent.” 토토사이트
Now the eyes of the fans are looking at 4 years later. The 2026 World Cup will be co-hosted by three North and Central American countries: Canada, the United States and Mexico. In particular, 48 countries, an increase of 50% from the previous 32, will participate in the finals, making it the largest ever.
As the number of participating countries increased, the qualifications for the finals by continent also changed. In the case of Asia (AFC), it increases from 4.5 to 8⅓, and in Africa (CAF), it nearly doubles from 5 to 9⅓. On the other hand, Europe (UEFA) increased only slightly from 13 to 16, and South America (CONMEBOL) from 4.5 to 6⅓.
In a situation where the number of Asian and African players active in Europe continues to increase, if more of these countries participate in the World Cup, the odds of a surprise event may increase.