The 2026 World Cup is 968 days away, but for some teams, dreams of qualifying have already been dashed this week.
While most confederations don’t begin qualifying for some time – UEFA’s process kicks off in March 2025 – one of them has already got going.
Ten teams playing in the Asian qualifying stages have already seen their hopes extinguished after a brutal first knockout round.
Ranked 203rd in the world, the US island territory based in Micronesia only ever had an outside chance of making the 2026 tournament in Canada, Mexico, and the United States.
Guam became the first nation to be knocked out of qualifying for the 2026 World Cup
For a few hours, they were the sole team to have been eliminated, but others have now followed suit.
The Maldives, Cambodia, Mongolia, Bhutan, Macao, Laos, Brunei, Timor Leste, and Sri Lanka join Guam in the first ten losers.
They will not benefit from the generously expanded format for 2026, in which 48 teams will take part.
More to follow.