Former Super Eagles player, Oliseh has revealed that the new 48-team structure confirmed by the FIFA president will be a great opportunity for African countries.
The former Super Eagles captain, Sunday Oliseh has revealed that the FIFA expansion from 32 teams to 48 teams represents tremendous potential for African countries.
According to reports, everyone’s attention is currently focused on the 2026 World Cup, which will, this time, be hosted by three nations: Mexico, the United States, and Canada.
While the 2002 FIFA World Cup was hosted by two Asian nations, Japan and Korea, with the opening match taking place in South Korea and the final match taking place in Japan, this will mark the first time three nations will host the event.
By expanding the number of participating nations, the 2026 FIFA world cup, which is expected to be one of the biggest, will bid farewell to the 32-team structure that has been in use since 1998.
Brecorder reports that since taking office as FIFA president in 2016, Gianni Infantino has made increasing the number of teams that can compete at the World Cup a top focus.
Following the thrilling World Cup championship game in which Lionel Messi led Argentina to its first triumph since 1986, Infantino made the following remarks to skysports:
“We have approved a 48-team World Cup format with 16 groups of three, of which the top two would then move to a knockout phase of 32, followed by 16, eight, four and then two.”
From 13 teams at the inaugural tournament in 1930, the finals remained a 16-team event from 1934 to 1978, before increasing to 24 in 1982.
However, the biggest beneficiaries of the expansion to 48 teams will be Africa and Asia.
Africa will gain nine qualifying spots for the finals (up from five previously), while Asia will practically double to eight under the new structure (from 4.5 slots).
According to Brecorder, former Nigerian midfielder, Oliseh, stated that Africans have been given a fantastic opportunity.
Former Nigerian international Sunday Oliseh remarked, “For us Africans, it’s heaven sent,”
“I have always thought (Africa) should send more representatives – the more time you play, the more your chances are.
“It’s a continent of over a billion people. My country is 200 million people.
“For us, it’s fascinating to see a bigger, larger World Cup.”
The fourth-place African team, Nigeria, would, however, be given a bigger chance to compete in the 2026 World Cup.