Country withdraws from 2026 World Cup six days before first qualifying clash
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A country has withdrawn from the 2026 World Cup just six days before the first qualifying match.
The 2026 World Cup is due to take place in the United States of America, Canada and Mexico and qualifying matches for the tournament are starting to get underway.
However, one country has already taken the decision to withdraw from the competition.
African country Eritrea were set to take on Morocco, who reached the semi-finals of the 2022 World Cup, on November 16 but withdrawn from the tournament on Friday.
After their withdrawal, Group E of the African qualifiers will now take place between the five remaining teams - Morocco, Zambia, Congo, Tanzania and Niger.
A statement confirming Eritera’s withdrawal was released by world football’s governing body, FIFA.
It read: “FIFA and CAF can confirm that the Eritrean National Football Federation has withdrawn from the FIFA World Cup 2026™ preliminary competition.
“Following Eritrea’s withdrawal, group E of the CAF qualifiers will be contested by the five remaining teams: Morocco, Zambia, Congo, Tanzania and Niger. All of Eritrea’s matches have been cancelled, while the rest of the match schedule for Group E remains unchanged.”
This is not the first time Eritrea have withdrawn from a tournament after they did the same before the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations, paving the way for their opponents, Botswana to receive a bye through to the group stage.
Eritrea last played an international match in January 2020 when they took on Sudan in a friendly clash. Their last competitive match was in September 2019 when they took part in the qualifying round for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
The 2022 World Cup in Qatar was won by a Lionel Messi inspired Argentina after a pulsating final against defending champions France.
After 120 minutes, the match ended in a thrilling 3-3 draw before Argentina clinched the trophy via a tense penalty shootout.