The All Whites path to future football World Cups has become a little easier.
The sport’s world governing body, FIFA, has confirmed that from 2026 Oceania will have a direct qualification spot with the number of teams participating in the tournament being increased from 32 to 48.
Currently the winner of the Oceania group must play the fifth placed South American team for a place in the main draw of the tournament.
Europe will have 16 slots at the 48-team World Cup from 2026 onwards, up from 13, and the five other confederations of the ruling body FIFA will also see increases.
FIFA also confirmed that the final two berths will be determined in a six-team intercontinental mini tournament in late 2025 in the World Cup host nation.
Europe leads the way with 16 slots, while Africa had the biggest gain, from five to nine slots. Asia will have eight, North, central America and the Caribbean six just as South America, and Oceania one.