Malaysia lowest rank among group leaders in World Cup 2026 qualifiers

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The Harimau Malaya squad during a training camp in preparation for the qualifying competition. – Bernama photo

KUALA LUMPUR (March 20): Malaysia have the lowest world ranking among the current nine group leaders in the second round of the World Cup 2026 Asian zone qualifying competition.

The Kim Pan Gon-guided Harimau Malaya are leading Group D after two matches when they upset Kyrgyzstan 4-3 at the National Stadium in Bukit Jalil here and defeated Taiwan 1-0 in Taipei, with both matches played last year.

Malaysia, ranked 132nd in the world, top the group with six points, followed by Oman and Kyrgyzstan in second and third places respectively on three points and Taiwan last without any points.

Among the nine groups in the Asian zone competition, Malaysia are the only team outside of the world’s top 100 to win six points from the first two matches to lead the group.

The other group leaders are Asian Cup 2023 champions Qatar in Group A, Japan (Group B), South Korea (Group C), Iran (Group E), Iraq (Group F), Saudi Arabia (Group G), the United Arab Emirates (Group H) and Australia (Group I).

Among them, Japan are the highest ranked at number 18, followed by Iran (20), South Korea (22), Australia (23), Qatar (37), Saudi Arabia (53), Iraq (59) and the United Arab Emirates (69).

Earlier, the Federation of International Football Associations (FIFA) uploaded Instagram posts on the nine countries leading the group competition in the World Cup 2026 Asian zone second-round qualifiers.

The World Cup 2026 qualifying competition for the Asian zone is being held simultaneously with the Asian Cup 2027 qualifiers.

Malaysia will resume their World Cup 2026/Asian Cup 2027 second-round qualifying campaign by playing Oman in Muscat tomorrow night (2 am Friday Malaysian time) before hosting Oman in Bukit Jalil on March 26.

After that, they will meet Kyrgyzstan in Bishkek on June 6 and wind up their Group D campaign with a match against Taiwan in Bukit Jalil on June 11.

The top two teams in each group will qualify for the third round of the World Cup 2026 qualifiers and confirm their places in the Asian Cup 2027, while the bottom two teams will play in the third round of the Asian Cup 2027 qualifying competition. – Bernama