With the 2018 FIFA world cup less than 250 days away, the climax of the world cup qualifiers lived up to the expectations as it has been in the past two decades, last fixtures being the turning point of teams such as Argentina and Egypt. It has also thrown a lot of surprises and shocks, some teams that many consider underdogs have found their way to the world cup whilst some big names will miss out on this elite football competition.
Who has qualified?
Over half of the 32 teams have qualified for Russia 2018, 23 Countries to be exact, have already qualified for next summer’s world cup in Russia. Russia the hosts won a spot after being awarded the chance to host the 2018 world cup.
Most of the teams that qualified finished top in their groups especially in Europe and Africa. In Asia two top teams booked a spot in the world cup, whereas in North and South America there were more than three teams from a single group owing to the fact that they had few groups. Federations governing football across Continents vary in terms of administrative policies thus the formula is not uniform across all countries.
Here is a list of the 23 countries that have already booked a spot in FIFA world cup in Russia:
- South Korea
- Saudi Arabia
- Costa Rica
Who can still qualify?
Europe playoff teams
A draw will take place this October and subsequently a four two-legged fixture takes place in November, and the winner in each fixture books a place in Russia.
Teams with a spot in the play offs include Switzerland, Sweden, Northern Ireland, Ireland, Denmark, Italy, Greece and Croatia.
Winners in each of the five groups books a spot in Russia. So far only Nigeria (group B winners) and Egypt (group E winners) have made it. There is only one game remaining for each team so that the final 3 teams join their compatriots in Russia. The fixtures will be played early November
Going into the last fixtures, battle lines have already been drawn in the remaining three groups. group A, with the battle being between Tunisia and DR Congo. Group C has Morocco leading Ivory Coast by one point.in Group D Senegal are leading by two points ahead of second placed Burkina Faso.
Intercontinental play offs.
Honduras who finished 4th in North, Central America and Caribbean (CONCACAF) will play Australia in an international play off for a place in Russia.
In another fixture, Peru who finished fifth in South America (CONMEBOL) will play New Zealand in November to determine who books a place in Russia.
Who is out?
There are definitely teams you would expect to see at the world cup, sadly enough big names haven’t lived up to the expectations and thus will be a no show in next year’s showpiece in Russia. Pretty disappointing but that’s the beauty of football.
Here are some big names that have missed out on world cup qualification.
Lionel Messi scored his 44th career hat trick to single handedly drag Argentina to Russia when they beat Ecuador 3-1. This proved beyond doubt the World Cup does owe Lionel Messi a chance. It is this win that further denied Chile a spot in playoffs.
USA is out of the world cup after 32 years, they only needed at least a draw against 99th ranked Trinidad and Tobago to secure a play-off spot, they lost 1-2 instead. It’s a twist that no one saw coming considering the quality of the team they were playing against.
Iceland becomes the smallest nation to qualify for world, it has a population of approximately 335,00 people. Trinidad and Tobago previously held this record in 2006 with a population of 1.6million. they finished top of their group with 22 points to earn a spot in Vladimir’s territory.
Egypt made it the world cup after missing out for 28 years. The pharaohs made it through thanks to Mohamed Salah’s penalty in the dying minutes of their game against Congo which they won 2-1. It sparked wild celebrations across Cairo.