The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) section of the 2014 FIFA World Cup qualification saw 43 teams competing for 4 or 5 berths in the final tournament in Brazil. As in recent tournaments the AFC had four direct qualifiers for the finals tournament in addition to a further possible place via the intercontinental play-offs against CONMEBOL's fifth-placed team, which was chosen through a random draw, rather than being decided by FIFA beforehand as in previous tournaments (e.g., 2010 against a team from OFC, 2006 against a team from CONCACAF). Iran and South Korea from Group A, along with Australia and Japan from Group B won the 4 direct qualification positions, with Jordan defeating Uzbekistan in a play-off to see which team would face the 5th placed CONMEBOL team, Uruguay, for a place in the World Cup.
The main qualifying draw took place in Brazil on 30 July 2011. Initially it was announced that the AFC Competitions Committee decided to use the 2010 qualification format for the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil. The AFC published information in their calendar suggesting qualifiers would start on 8 October 2010 with the first leg of first round ties.
Therefore for the 2010 finals, FIFA advised the AFC that 2014 qualifiers could not begin until after mid-2011. On 13 August 2010 the AFC announced a format for the qualifiers that was identical to the 2010 format even though the final number of qualifiers had not been determined. A final format, with the initial stages modified slightly from 2010, was announced in March 2011.
Qualification began with two sets of two-leg knock-out qualification rounds – the first held on 29 June and 2 July and 3 July 2011 and the second on 23 and 28 July – reducing the number of teams in the main draw to 20. As in the 2010 format, the third stage consisted of 5 groups of 4 teams (with matches held between September 2011 and February 2012) with the top 2 in each group advancing to 2 groups of 5 that will play a further group stage during 2012 and 2013. The top two teams in each group qualify for the 2014 finals directly, with the two third-placed teams playing-off for a chance to qualify via an intercontinental qualifying tie. A random draw determined that the final tie would be against the fifth-placed team from CONMEBOL qualification.
43 of the 46 AFC national teams entered qualification. A ranking list for the qualification rounds was released by AFC on 8 March 2011, with an updated list released due to the non-participation of Guam and Bhutan.
The rankings determined the round of qualification that teams began competition:
Teams ranked 1–5 (the teams that competed in the 2010 FIFA World Cup finals and the intercontinental play-offs) do not compete in the qualification rounds, and automatically qualify for the first group stage (drawn in Brazil in July 2011).
Teams ranked 6–27 (other teams that advanced past the first round in 2010 qualification, plus the three first round losers with the 'best' results) receive a bye to the second round of qualification.
The first round draw of the Asian qualifiers took place on 30 March 2011 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The first legs were played on 29 June 2011 and the second legs were played on 2 and 3 July 2011.
Note 1: The first leg of Oman vs Myanmar was originally won 2–0 by Oman, but was subsequently awarded to them as a 3–0 victory. The return leg was abandoned in the 45+2 minute due to crowd trouble. Oman was leading 2–0. The result was declared final by FIFA, and Myanmar were banned from competing in the qualifying tournament for the 2018 World Cup.
Note 2: Both legs of the Syria vs Tajikistan tie were awarded 3–0 to Tajikistan after Syria was ruled to have fielded an ineligible player. Syria had won the first leg 2–1 and the return leg 4–0.
The third round saw the 5 automatic qualifiers joined by the 15 winners from the second round. These teams were drawn into five groups of four teams, at the World Cup Preliminary Draw at the Marina da Glória in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on 30 July 2011. The matches were played from 2 September 2011 to 29 February 2012. The top two teams from each group advanced to the fourth round.
The fourth round saw the group winners and runners-up from the third round play in two groups of five. The top two teams from each group advanced to the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil, while the two third-placed teams advance to the fifth round. Japan, South Korea, Australia and Iran have qualified for the 2014 FIFA World Cup.
The draw for Round Four was held on 9 March 2012 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, with the teams seeded according to their March 2012 FIFA Ranking. The FIFA rankings used were released on 7 March 2012 and included all matches from the third round of Asian Qualifiers for the 2014 FIFA World Cup. The ten teams (shown below with their March 2012 FIFA Ranking in brackets) are split into five pots, with each group containing a team from each pot.
The matches were played from 3 June 2012 to 18 June 2013.
As the competition partially overlaps with the 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup, which is being held from 15 June 2013, the AFC decided that the match day will be adjusted only for Japan, the representative of AFC for the Confederations Cup, placing them on Position 5 in their group in order not to play on 18 June 2013.
The two teams who finished third in the fourth round groups (Jordan and Uzbekistan) played each other to determine the AFC participant in the intercontinental play-off.
The draw for the fifth round of the AFC qualifiers was held in Zürich on 19 March 2013 during meetings of the Organising Committee for the FIFA World Cup. The games took place on 6 and 10 September 2013. With the two teams still evenly matched at full-time in the second leg, Jordan eventually progressed to the intercontinental playoff after winning 9–8 on penalties.