The 2018 FIFA World Cup qualification process is a series of tournaments organised by the six FIFA confederations to decide 31 of the 32 teams which will play in the 2018 FIFA World Cup, with Russia qualifying automatically as hosts. All 210 remaining FIFA member associations were eligible to enter the qualifying process, and for the first time in World Cup history, all eligible national teams registered for the preliminary competition, but Zimbabwe and Indonesia were disqualified before playing their first matches. Bhutan, South Sudan, Gibraltar and Kosovo made their FIFA World Cup qualification debuts. While the main qualifying draw took place at the Konstantinovsky Palace in Strelna, Saint Petersburg, on 25 July 2015, a number of qualification matches were played before that. The first began in Dili, Timor Leste, on 12 March 2015 as part of the AFC's qualification,with East Timorese player Chiquito do Carmo scoring the first goal of qualification. Matches were also played in CONCACAF prior to the main draw.
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TEAMS MP W D L GF GA +/- Pts Brazil 17 11 5 1 38 11 27 38 Already Qualified for 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™ From South America. Brazil have sparkled at FIFA World Cups over the years and aside from being the only nation to have participated at all 20 tournaments to date - with Russia 2018 representing their 21st appearance - they are also the only country to have won the title five times, doing so at Sweden 1958, Chile 1962, Mexico 1970, USA 1994 and Korea/Japan 2002. Their reputation is further underlined by finishing as runners-up on two occasions (in 1950 and 1998), winning bronze twice (in 1938 and 1978) and their two fourth-placed finishes (in 1974 and 2014). The legendary Pele heads a long list of Brazilian players to have taken the tournament by storm. They were the first side to join the hosts at Russia 2018, doing so in March 2017. They turned things around to take the CONMEBOL group by storm after a poor start, with coach Tite instrumental in their change in fortunes. The team After the disappointment of coming fourth as hosts of the 2014 World Cup, Brazil are out to make amends at Russia 2018. They have a squad bursting with talent – superstar Neymar chief among them - and also have the blend of quality, youth and experience needed to recover their identity and standing. The coach Adenor Leonardo Bachi, best known as Tite, assumed the reins in June 2016 replacing Dunga who was dismissed in the wake of the team’s poor performance at the Copa America Centenario. A former defensive midfielder with 11 years playing experience, Tite quit in 1989 to make his debut as coach a year later at Gremio Atletico Guarany. With almost no experience outside Brazil, his most important success came as coach of Corinthians, where he won the Copa Libertadores, the FIFA Club World Cup and two Brazilians Championships, the last one in 2015 during his third stint at the club. Tite is well known for his strict character, professional working ethic and a straight forward relationship with his players. The stat 21 – The number of times Brazil have reached the FIFA World Cup. A Seleção have been present at every world finals to date and Russia 2018 will bring their tournament tally to 21. The former stars Leonidas, Zizinho, Didi, Garrincha, Pele, Rivelino, Zico, Falcao, Romario, Rivaldo, Ronaldo
TEAMS MP W D L GF GA +/- Pts URUGUAY 17 8 4 5 28 18 10 28 Uruguay have a proud history at FIFA's flagship event. Victorious at the inaugural World Cup in 1930, a tournament they hosted, La Celeste collected their second world title 20 years later in Brazil, a triumph sealed by El Maracanazo, their momentous defeat of the hosts in the final game of the competition. They remained in the elite until Mexico 1970, since when they have missed out on qualification on four occasions (Argentina 1978, Spain 1982, USA 1994 and France 1998). Present at 12 world finals in all, Uruguay enjoyed a long-awaited return to prominence at South Africa 2010, where they took fourth place. The team La Celeste are going through something of a transitional phase, as the veterans of the South Africa 2010 and Brazil 2014 campaigns begin to make way for a new generation of players emerging from the country’s youth sides. The team’s figurehead is Luis Suarez, who top-scored in the last South American preliminaries with 11 goals and whose recent exploits in front of goal are firing Uruguayan hopes of landing a place at Russia 2018. With another fine striker alongside him in Edinson Cavani, Los Charrúas possess a sharp cutting edge up front, one that could see them improve on a run of four consecutive fifth-place finishes in the CONMEBOL group. The coach Oscar Washington Tabarez is an institution in Uruguayan football, having taken charge of the national team at Italy 1990, South Africa 2010 and Brazil 2014. Known as El Maestro, Tabarez is an attack-minded coach fabled for his astute tactics and fatherly approach to his players. The mastermind of Uruguay’s 2011 Copa America title win, he also has extensive experience at club level, with Penarol, Boca Juniors and Milan among the sides he has coached. The stat 51 - The total number of matches Uruguay have played in the world finals, a tally bettered only by Germany with 106, Brazil (104), Italy (83), Argentina (77), England (62), Spain (59), France (59) and Mexico (53). The former stars Hector Scarone, Angel Romano, Obdulio Varela, Roque Maspoli, Alcides Ghiggia, Ladislao Mazurkiewicz, Pedro Rocha, Rodolfo Rodriguez, Ruben Sosa, Enzo Francescoli, Alvaro Recoba, Diego Forlan
TEAMS MP W D L GF GA +/- Pts CHILE 17 8 2 7 26 24 2 26 Chile have graced nine FIFA World Cups, the last two of them consecutive, a first for La Roja since the 1960s. Their best ever performance was third place on home soil in 1962, since when they have never progressed beyond the Round of 16, though they came close to breaking that run at Brazil 2014, where they lost on penalties to the hosts. The South Americans were one of the 13 nations to contest the inaugural world finals in 1930. The team The mainstays of Chile’s finest ever generation form the backbone of the side. Among them the solid and reliable Claudio Bravo between the posts; the versatile and inspirational Gary Medel; the tireless Arturo Vidal; and the elusive Alexis Sanchez. The coach After Jorge Sampaoli resigned from his post in January 2016, another Argentinian, Juan Antonio Pizzi, took over as coach of the national team. Pizzi's managerial career has taken him to his homeland Argentina, Peru, Chile, Spain and Mexico, where he was coach for Club Leon until taking the job with La Roja. Pizzi was a champion in Chile with Universidad de Chile in 2010 and in Argentina with San Lorenzo in 2013. In June 2016, he won the Copa America Centenario with Chile, defeating Argentina in the final on penalties. "We are very pleased with the arrival of Juan Antonio Pizzi. He is a professional who gives us full confidence, has an established career, he has been champion in Chile and Argentina, in addition to good campaigns in Europe and Mexico," President of the Asociacion Nacional de Futbol Profesional Arturo Salah said when Pizzi was announced as head coach. The stat 1 - The number of Chilean players who have appeared at three World Cups. The man in question was Elias Figueroa, who ran out for La Roja at England 1966, Germany 1974 and Spain 1982. The former stars Elias Figueroa, Sergio Livingstone, Patricio Yanez, Carlos Caszely, Ivan Zamorano, Marcelo Salas
TEAMS MP W D L GF GA +/- Pts COLOMBIA 17 7 5 5 20 18 2 26 Colombia’s maiden FIFA World Cup™ appearance was at Chile 1962, but it was not until the 1990s that they truly made their mark on the international stage. A golden generation spearheaded by Carlos Valderrama qualified for three consecutive finals: Italy 1990, USA 1994 and France 1998, although they only progressed beyond the group stage at the former. It was another 16 years before Colombia graced the tournament again, going further than ever before by reaching the quarter-finals at Brazil 2014. The team James Rodriguez is the figurehead of a side filled with young, talented players who ply their trade in some of the world’s biggest leagues. Under the guidance of coach Jose Pekerman, Colombia have become a compact and balanced outfit that attack as a team but are also solid at the back. Following their outstanding efforts at Brazil 2014, Colombia are one of the favourites to reach Russia 2018. The coach Pekerman is credited with playing a lead role in reinvigorating the Colombian national team. The Argentinian has been in charge since the start of 2012 and not only took them back to the World Cup after a lengthy absence, but helped them rediscover the identity and playing style that made them famous. Pekerman also enjoyed success on the touchline with Argentina, both at youth level and with the senior side, whom he guided to the quarter-finals at Germany 2006. The stat 5 – The number of World Cups Colombia have reached so far, putting them fifth in South America’s all-time appearance list behind Brazil (20), Argentina (16), Uruguay (12) and Paraguay (eight). The former stars Willington Ortiz, Arnoldo Iguaran, Rene Higuita, Andres Escobar, Carlos Valderrama, Leonel Alvarez, Victor Hugo Aristizabal, Freddy Rincon, Oscar Cordoba, Adolfo Valencia, Mauricio Serna, Faustino Asprilla, Faryd Mondragon
TEAMS MP W D L GF GA +/- Pts ARGENTINA 17 6 7 4 16 15 1 25 Argentina have participated at 16 FIFA World Cups so far, putting them third on the competition’s all-time appearance list. La Albiceleste have featured at every tournament since Mexico 1970 and graced the inaugural edition at Uruguay 1930, where they finished as runners-up. That was the first of the five Finals Argentina have reached; they were crowned champions as hosts in 1978 and at Mexico 1986, and took the silver medal at Italy 1990 and Brazil 2014, as well as going as far as the Second Round at Spain 1982. The team After losing the Copa America Centenario final in 2016, a new era of rebuilding began for Argentina. Lionel Messi made a brief retirement from the national team, with La Albiceleste undergoing a reconstruction process during its fight for a place at Russia 2018. The coach Jorge Sampaoli succeeded Edgardo Bauza as Argentina coach on 1 June 2017 after spending one season in charge of Spanish club Sevilla. Following a modest start to his coaching career with various clubs in Peru, Ecuador, and Chile, he made a name for himself as coach of the Chilean national team, guiding them to the Round of 16 at the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™. A year later, Sampaoli led La Roja to their first major honour when they claimed the Copa America title on home soil. The stat 42 – The total number of World Cup victories Argentina have recorded, putting them fourth in the all-time list behind Brazil (70 wins), Germany (66) and Italy (45). The former stars Guillermo Stabile, Daniel Passarella, Mario Kempes, Ubaldo Fillol, Diego Maradona, Oscar Ruggeri, Jorge Burruchaga, Gabriel Batistuta, Diego Simeone, Javier Zanetti, Roberto Ayala, Hernan Crespo, Juan Riquelme
TEAMS MP W D L GF GA +/- Pts PERU 17 7 4 6 26 25 1 25 Peru participated at three FIFA World Cups between Mexico 1970 and Spain 1982, but have since been unable to match the heights of those golden years, leaving their fans disappointed after failing to qualify for subsequent finals. Their only other tournament appearance came at Uruguay 1930, but their best achievements were a sensational run to the quarter-finals in 1970 and reaching the Second Round at Argentina 1978. The team Peru are currently going through a phase of re-building after winning the bronze medal at the 2011 Copa America in Argentina but failing to qualify for Brazil 2014. The squad has a mixture of youth and experience, with evergreen veterans such as Claudio Pizarro, Paolo Guerrero, Jefferson Farfan and Juan Vargas complementing the younger generation, including defensive duo Pedro Requena and Gustavo Dulanto. The coach Ricardo Gareca was appointed head coach in 2015 and is only the second Argentinian to take charge of Peru after Angel Fernandez Roca did so in the 1940s and 50s. It is the first time el Tigre has coached a national side, having previously enjoyed success at club level, winning the league title with Universitario de Lima and Velez Sarsfield. Gareca will be hoping to make amends for contributing to Peru’s absence from Mexico 1986, after he equalised for Argentina at 2-2 shortly before the final whistle in the last qualifying game. The stat 24 – The number of coaches, including Gareca, Peru have had since Spain 1982. Four coaches have had two separate stints at the helm over that same period. The former stars Teofilo Cubillas, Hugo Sotil, Hector Chumpitaz, Cesar Cueto, Juan Carlos Oblitas, Franco Navarro, Nolberto Solano, Roberto Palacios
TEAMS MP W D L GF GA +/- Pts PARAGUAY 17 7 3 7 19 24 -5 24 Paraguay took part in the very first world finals in Uruguay in 1930, and have since made seven more appearances at the game's showpiece event, the last of them coming at South Africa 2010. It was there that they achieved their best ever performance, reaching the quarter-finals before going down 1-0 to eventual champions Spain. The team After missing out on a place at Brazil 2014, La Albirroja are banking on a group of experienced players in their bid to return to the global elite at Russia 2018. Skippered by front man Roque Santa Cruz, Los Guaraníes have a solid core of seasoned performers in Paulo da Silva, Justo Villar, Victor Caceres and Edgar Benitez, a quartet that will be crucial to their chances of challenging for qualification. The coach Francisco Arce assumed the national team reins for the second time at the beginning of August 2016. His first stint at the Paraguay helm, for whom he played at the 1998 and 2002 FIFA World Cups, began in August 2011, and ended ten months later following a defeat against Bolivia in the nation’s failed Brazil 2014 campaign. Arce subsequently took Cerro Porteno and Olimpia to national league success in his native country, and was coaching Guarani when he received his second national team call. The stat 22 - The position occupied by Paraguay in the all-time FIFA World Cup table, courtesy of their record of seven wins, ten draws and as many defeats, equivalent to 31 points, the fifth-best tally in South America. The former stars Aurelio Gonzalez, Florencio Amarilla, Cayetano Re, Saturnino Arrua, Julio Cesar Romero, Roberto Cabanas, Jose Luis Chilavert, Roberto Acuna, Jose Cardozo, Francisco Arce, Carlos Gamarra, Salvador Cabanas
TEAMS MP W D L GF GA +/- Pts ECUADOR 17 6 2 9 25 26 -1 20 Ecuador were absent from the first six FIFA World Cups and only began taking part in qualifying in the run-up to Chile 1962. They made their tournament debut as recently as 2002 at Korea/Japan and have only missed the South Africa 2010 finals since then. Their best achievement to date was at Germany 2006, where they reached the Round of 16. The team In Walter Ayovi, Antonio Valencia, Felipe Caicedo, Christian Noboa and Enner Valencia Ecuador have the ideal mix of youth and experience needed to stay among the world’s elite. Qualifying for Russia 2018 is the minimum target for a group of players eager to improve on their performance at Brazil 2014, where they were unable to progress beyond the group stage. The coach Jorge Celico is set to take charge of El Tri for their final two qualifiers. The stat 3 – The number of World Cups Ecuador have participated at, all of which have come since 2002. The former stars Alberto Spencer, Ivan Kaviedes, Agustin Delgado, Ivan Hurtado, Luis Capurro, Jose Cevallos, Alex Aguinaga, Ulises de la Cruz, Edison Mendez