India should dream of qualifying for the 2026 FIFA World Cup as the tournament will be expanded to 48 teams, All India Football Federation (AIFF) President Praful Patel said on Wednesday. Patel made the statement while unveiling the logo for India’s 2027 AFC Asian Cup bid.
“We also discussed with Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju that our dream should be to qualify for the 2026 Fifa World Cup,” said Patel.
“We have six years and the World Cup will be expanded to 48 teams. Eight teams will go from Asia. Why not look at it that we can dream of playing in the World Cup in 2026. That should be our goal. All these competitions and bids are working towards a larger plan. This is the larger plan,” he added.
The Fifa World Cup will be expanded to 48 teams from the current 32 from the 2026 tournament. The number of teams that can qualify from Asia has been increased to eight from four.
Patel said that he expects a tough competition for India in their effort to successfully bid to host the 2027 Asian Cup. India will be up against Asian champions Qatar who are hosting the upcoming 2022 World Cup, apart from Saudi Arabia, Iran and Uzbekistan.
“It will be a tough competition. But unless we try, we will never move forward. We had three major competitions in the last few years because we tried. There will be diplomatic support also for all the bidding countries and the government will definitely provide its support,” said Patel.