“The AFC Competitions Committee has decided to use the present qualification format for the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil.
The top five teams from the 2010 FIFA World Cup will be given direct entry into the third round while the remaining 38 teams will play home and away in the opening round.
The 11 highest-ranked teams from the second round will be given direct entry into the third round while the lowest eight teams will qualify for Round 2.
After playing home-and-away in the second round, four winners will join the top five teams and 11 qualifiers in the third round where they will be divided into five groups of four teams each.
The winners and runners of each group will qualify for the final round where the 10 teams will be divided into two groups of five teams each.
The group winners and runners-up will make it to the 2014 FIFA World Cup while the third-placed team in each group will be engaged in a two-tiered play-off for a place in the Finals.”
What does this mean for Palestine? Well not much has changed from the 2010 format, the AFC is still unfairly favoring the top 5 teams in the region. Palestine will play a first round match no matter what, who they play depends on their ranking. In order to avoid the better teams they will need to improve their ranking (currently 35th in the AFC 175 in the world) to at least 24th in the AFC (around the 140s in the FIFA rankings). They have just about a year to pull it off, so here’s hoping we start organizing real friendlies and calling up our best players.