Countdown to FIFA World Cup qualifiers: Asia

FIFA World Cup 2014 qualifying matches return on Sept. 6. As a full slate of contests approaches, we’re bringing you a breakdown of all six confederations, where teams stand and how they can earn a coveted place in Brazil.

Asia: Asian Football Confederation (AFC)

How many countries compete? 43

How many teams qualify for the World Cup? 4 or 5

How does it all work? The top 10 teams, determined by rank, preliminary two-legged matches, and a five-group stage, are placed into two final groups of five. After eight matches, one home and one away against each of the other four teams in the group, the countries that finish first and second gain qualification. The third-placed nations play a two-legged match in September with the winner advancing to play the fifth-placed team from South America for the right to head to the FIFA World Cup.

When will we know? The first four representatives from Asia have already been settled. Uzbekistan or Jordan will contest an intercontinental playoff for a spot on Nov. 20.

Who’s in?

IranKorea RepublicJapanAustralia

Who’s on the cusp?

Uzbekistan, Jordan

Who’s out?

Qatar, Lebanon, Oman and Iraq

Coming Monday: Oceania Football Confederation