Brace yourselves readers; the FIFA World Cup 2018 is approaching towards us at a tremendous speed. 32 teams will indulge in an ordered rumble where we will witness the results of the blood, sweat and tears which the players have shed for being the ultimate victor. The World Cup is set to happen in Russia from June 14th to July 15th.
2018 World Cup qualification
All of us are so much happy and excited because the FIFA 2018 World Cup season is here. Now, we will discuss about the qualification process for this season. The process was nothing but kind of a series of all the tournaments that was officially organized by the six FIFA confederations in order to choose 31 teams out of 32 which will be participating in the 2018 FIFA World Cup. Russia being the host country will get a direct qualification.
However, as for the 210 remaining member associations, they were all eligible for the process of qualification. There is a very interesting fact, which is that, this is the first time in history when, of the entire national teams who are registered for the process of preliminary selection, Indonesia and Zimbabwe were directly disqualified before they even got to play their first matches.
Countries like, South Sudan, Bhutan, Kosovo and Gibraltar had made their debuts for the qualification for the 2018 FIFA World Cup. You might have heard about the ban on Myanmar for troubling the crowd during a match against Oman at the 2014 World Cup. Currently, they are all obliged to play their home matches but outside their home country.
Process of qualification
32 was the total number of the participating teams for the final tournament. The slot allocation was properly decided by the executive committee in Zurich on 30th May 2015 after the FIFA Congress ofcourse. The committee decided that the allocation criteria would be the same as for the year 2014 which would be kept for 2018 as well as the 2022 games.
The president of UEFA, Michael Platini, in October 2013 had proposed that the expansion of the teams to 40 from 32 start in 2018. However, the format wouldn’t have changed, just instead of four, there would be five groups. This was because of the response of Sepp Blatter, the president of FIFA who had commented that that Asia and Africa deserved a larger number of spots in the finals of the World Cup at the expenses incurred by the South American and the European teams.
This might as well be very unlikely to happen as the General Secretary of FIFA, Jerome Valcke had mentioned that the 2018 expansion is going to be “unlikely”, however the sports Minister of Russia had further mentioned that the overall preparation of Russia for the World Cup was for 32 participating teams. Until the 10th of January 2017 is when the expansion had been delayed as the FIFA Council had voted in order to expand till 48 teams which will start in the 2026 FIFA World Cup hopefully.
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All the FIFA members had entered the tournament but everyone couldn’t compete. Zimbabwe team was expelled on 12th March 2015 as they have failed to pay a severance fee to Jose Claudinei, the former coach. On the other hand, the Indonesian team was excluded as their football association was suspended by FIFA on 30th of May 2015.
The similar fate was suffered by Kuwait as well, as they had a number of qualifiers that were cancelled for a kind of a similar suspension that had begun during their campaign that had caused the elimination.
With a 3-0 win over Paraguay on 28th March 2017, Brazil were the very first team to be selected. The final team who got selected was Peru, as they were the 32nd team for qualifying, right after 233 days; Brazil had booked their spot as well by beating New Zealand with a 2-0 victory.
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Every round must be played in one of these formats.
Here, two teams played two-legged matches, away and home.
Here, more than two teams form groups for playing home-and-away matches. However, they may also go for single round robin matches which will be hosted by one fo the participating countries, if permitted by the FIFA Organizing Committee.
The following criteria decides the ranking teams in a League format as per the regulations of Article 20.6 and 20.7
- Overall goal difference
- Points (0 for a loss, 1 for a draw and 3 points for a win)
- Points in matches between tied teams
- Overall goals scored
- Goals that are scored in matches between tied teams
- Goal difference between matches in tied teams
- Fair play points
- First yellow card – 1 point minus
- Second yellow card (Indirect red card) – 3 points minus
- Direct red card – 4 points minus
- Yellow card and direct red card – 5 points minus
8. Away goals scored in matches between the tied teams
9. Drawing of lots by the organizing committee of FIFA World Cup 2018
In case the teams finish in the same position, at that time the performance of all the groups are compared in order to determine which teams will be advancing to the next stage of qualification. The criteria is fixed by the confederation and it requires the approval of the FIFA regulations mentioned in the Article 20.8.
As for the knockout format, the team to progress to the next round is going to be the team that has a comparatively higher aggregate score as compared to the rest of the teams. If there is an event whose finish level scores are aggregated than the team that has actively scored a greater number of goals over the two legs progress away from home. This is also called the away goal rule.
In case the away goals are also similar, at that time the extra 30 minutes are played which are divided into halves of fifteen minutes. The rule of away goals is applied for extra time again. In this case the visiting team will be qualifying by the virtue of a large number of away goals that are scored.
Finally, during extra time if no goals are secured, the tie is eventually decided by a penalty shoot-out.
2018 World Cup qualifiers Africa
Behold the second team which has booked its spot by topping in Group E. They have made their first appearance after 28 years. They have made two first stage appearances. They have so far qualified twice for the finals and 14 times they have achieved success in the qualifying campaigns.
Egypt’s best players include Mohammed Salah, the Liverpool star had contributed 71% of the goals for the team in the qualifying round in Russia this time. He has scored in every one of the total third round victories.
After 20 years of absence, Morocco had finally booked their come-back into the World Cup finals this year. They have topped the Africa Group C this time and are fully ready for their fifth entry.
Morocco has successfully appeared amongst the World Cup 2018 qualifiers Africa, it has also appeared 4 times in the World Cup finals till 2018 and have cleared through 14 qualifying campaigns. Their best achievement is termed to be the round of 16 in the year 1986. They have made a total of 4 first stage appearances so far. Medhi Benatia who is among the best defenders in Africa, Herve Renard is the current coach of Morocco.
Nigeria has been retaining a good track record when it comes to getting through the qualifying rounds becoming the new World Cup qualifiers 2018 Africa. They have appeared at the finals in every single World Cup session apart from the Germany 2006.
They have qualified successfully at a total of 5 finals and a massive 13 qualifying campaigns. Gernot Rohr is the coach. When it comes to the best player of the team, it has got to be John Obi Mikel. He is also a winner of the UEFA Champions League winner with the team Chelsea.
Senegal has been absent for a total of 16 years and they have headed to their second edition of the game after a long absence of 16 years. In the history of World Cup they have successfully entered the finals once, but they have also smashed the qualifying campaigns 12 times, becoming great African World Cup qualifiers because of true dedication.
Aliou Cisse is the current coach of the Senegal team. Sadio Mane is among the top players in the entire continent. After he moved to Liverpool, Sadio had become Africa’s most expensive player. His worth being £34 million in the year 2016, Sadio is undoubtedly among the best assets of Senegal which equally complements his speed, skill as well as his strength.
The team that was absent for 12 years had finally returned, Tunisia had topped in the Africa Group A and have made their fifth entry in the tournament.
ASIA AND OCEANIA
After defeating Honduras in their intercontinental playoff, Australia had become the 31st team who have booked their spot successfully amongst the 2018 World Cup qualifiers in Russia by scoring a 3-1 victory. In their journey throughout the World Cup, Australia had secured 4 finals and they have made it through a total number of 14 qualifying campaigns.
Bert van Marwijk is the official coach for the Australian team, the 65 year old is surely one hell of an experienced coach. Throughout his entire career he has helped out a lot of teams to make it through the qualifying rounds. Tim Cahill is the evergreen forward player for the Australian team. He has scored a total number of 11 goals this time on his journey to the road to Russia.
Iran had become the first team from the AFC or the Asian Football Confederation to have secured their spot at this edition of the World Cup and joining the World Cup qualifiers 2018. Team Iran has a victory score of 4 in the finals and 10 successful qualifying campaigns.
Carlos Queiroz is the current coach for the Iranian team who has made it possible for Iran to be the very first Asian team to have qualified. Sardar Azmoun, he is also known as heir to Ali Daej, who was once the iconic Iranian goal scorer.
After they had successfully scored a 2-0 victory against Australia, Japan had made their entry to the Russian edition of this FIFA World Cup 2018. Japan has made it through a total of 5 FIFA finals and 14 qualifying campaigns so far.
Akira Nishino is the current coach of the Japanese team. He has guided Gamba Osaka to the semi-finals of the FIFA World Cup in the year 2008 as well. The star of the team is Maya Yoshida, who is very stylish and cultured can be easily said is the cornerstone of the Japanese team. He was also the captain of the 2012 Olymic games of Japan.
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With an outstanding 9 appearances in the finals of the FIFA World Cup so far and a staggering 14 wins at the qualifying campaigns, Korea Republic team can surely be a outperformar if they perform swiftly as they did in the year 2002 when they achieved the 4th position.
Shin Tae-Yong is the current coach for the Korea Republic team. He is a former midfielder of the Taeguk Warriors is all set this time to do whatever it takes to take the team to the top. Ki Sung-Yueng is the current star of the team and is also a great midfielder.
The Saudi team is back for action in this edition of the FIFA World Cup 2018. With a total number of 4 wins at the finals and 11 successful qualifying campaigns. Juan Antonio Pizzi is the current coach of the team.
Mohammed Al-Sahlawi is the current star of the team, he is a great forward player and is the current joint top scorer with an outstanding 16 number of goals in the 2018 Russia qualifying matches.
The 2-1 victory in Greece had ensured that this team has indeed saved their spot at the FIFA World Cup Russia. Belgium had successfully ensured a position in the Group H of the European qualifying games and is a strong FIFA world cup qualifier team. The Belgium team is one tight group of footballers who have appeared in the finals 12 times till date and a 19 time qualifying campaign winners.
Roberto Martinez is the current coach for the team, this will be his first time in the FIFA World Cup tournament as a coach. Eden Hazard is the current favorite star of the Belgium team. He is a master of creating as well as scoring goals. In the world of football Hazard is definitely among the most exciting forwards in the game of football.
Thanks to a 4-1 aggregate play-off win over Greece, Croatia has managed to finish second as the World Cup qualifiers Europe, so that they can secure their second appearance at the World Cup finals. Croatia has qualified 4 times for the finals and 6 times at the qualifying campaigns.
Zlatko Dalic is the coach for the team. Luka Modric is the star of the team, his efficiency can be best described as Andriy Shevchenko has quoted, “one of the best midfielders ever". That’s definitely something to celebrate.
After a 5-1 aggregate play-off victory over the Republic of Ireland, Denmark has successfully booked a position at the World Cup 2018 Russia. With a total of 4 appearances at the Finals and 15 qualifying campaigns, Denmark is all set for action now.
Age Hareide is the current coach for the team and is also the longest serving coach based on Denmark. Christian Eriksen is the star of the team who was inspired from the qualifying campaign of his team.
England has matched their previous record (1950 and 1970) by defeating Slovenia in their Group F match. They have made it to the finals 14 times and have succeeded in 16 qualifying campaigns and have undoubtedly become the World Cup qualifiers 2018.
Gareth Southgate is the current coach for the English team. Thanks to Gareth, England could make its sixth entry in the world finals. Harry Kane is the star of the team this time and is also among the leading strikers in the world.
France has topped Europe’s Group A and has booked their place at the World Cup tournament this time. France has a great background at the World Cup since a long time. With a staggering 14 Finals and 17 qualifying campaigns, France might just turn out to be a very tough competitor for the rest of the teams.
Didier Deschamps is the current coach for the French team who was a player as well as a winner once. Antonie Griezmann is the current star of the French team. He has provided a total number of four assists and four goals in total.
Here is Germany, the current champions and holders of the World Cup as well as the winners of the FIFA Confederations Cup. They are all set for retaining their title back again as they have passed as the 2018 World Cup qualifiers.
The team has qualified for 18 finals and 14 qualifying campaigns. They have won the World Cup title 4 times and had made 8 appearances in the finals since then. Joachim Low is the coach now and has been great at his job since 2006.
Toni Kroos is among the best midfielders of the current generation and the star of the team. Kroos was the winner of the UEFA Champions league, both with Liverpool as well as Bayern Munich.
Iceland didn’t have much fortune qualifying for the finals so far but they have passed through 13 qualifying campaigns so far. Heimir Hallgrimsson is the current coach for the Icelandic team, he is a former dentist but has solely caused his team to qualify for the finals and be amongst the 2018 FIFA World Cup qualification groups.
Gylfi Sigurdsson is the current star of the team as well as of the country since the last 5 years.
Poland, the team that was absent for 12 years, have finally made it as one of the world cup qualifiers. They have appeared 7 times for the finals and 17 successful qualifying campaigns. Adam Nawalka is the present coach for the team of Poland. Robert Lewandowski is the star of the team and was the top scorer in the qualifying round of the 2018 World Cup,
Portugal has made it to 6 finals till date and has passed out through 20 qualifying campaigns so far. Fernando Santos is the current coach of the team. After the EURO 2016, which was a major success to the team thanks to the coach, he has again led them through the qualifiers of the Russia 2018.
Cristiano Ronaldo is the star of the team and is also among the greatest footballers of the generation. For both Real Madrid and Portugal, Cristiano Ronaldo has also been titled for two consecutive years as the best FIFA Men’s player.
Russia doesn’t need any introduction this time because obvious reasons. Russia being the host this time has directly joined the FIFA world cup 2018 qualifiers and headed to the final. The team has successfully made it 10 times to the finals and 15 successes in the qualifying campaigns as well.
With Stanislav Cherchesov as the coach who is a former Russian and USSR International goalkeeper. Igor Akinfeev is a six time title winner and the captain of the Russian National team as well.
With a total number of 11 entries at the finals and 19 qualified campaigns, Serbia has appeared twice for the semifinals. Mladen Krstajic is the coach of the Serbian team currently. Branislav Ivanovic has been the captain for the team since the year 2012.
Spain has topped Group G and have respectfully earned their position at the World Cup 2018 in Russia. Spain has successfully passed into the finals 14 times. These guys have shown tuff competition a lot of times as they have passed through the qualifying campaigns 18 times. Julien Lopetegui is the present coach for the team.
Ranking 18 in FIFA, this team from the European continent has made it to the Finals 11 appearances in the World Cup history. Their coach Janne Anderson, since EURO 2016, has held the team straight and took them to a well-played win over Italy. Sweden made their way into the list with this 1-0 win. Their star is Marcus Berg, a powerful player with a lot of goals under Janne. Sweden is making their return to the international finals after a long time since 2006 Germany.
Switzerland took their spot in the coming World Cup after their 1-0 win over Northern Ireland, and they are going to make their 4th appearance at the World Cup in a row. Vladimir Petkovic, the Swiss coach led the team to the last 16 at the UEFA EURO 2016. They won against Northern Ireland in the 2018 Russia play-offs. Everybody is eyeing at Granit Xhaka, the 2017 player of the year. His smart play has people waiting eagerly to see him go all-out in this World Cup.
North, Central America and the Carribean
Costa Rica made it to the quarter finals in the Brazil 2014 games. Oscar Ramirez, who is a former Los Ticos coach was the mid-fielder in 4 games at Italy 1990. He has had experience in coaching before and is going to see that the team makes it to the end in this global event. The aggressive midfielder Bryan Ruiz played a significant role in the Brazil 2014 quarter finals. He made 3 scores in qualifying for this year’s tournament.
Mexico booked their slot in the 2018 World Cup by winning against Panama in 2017. They made 15 first stage appearances in World Cup history. Appointed in 2015, the coach leading this team is Juan Carlos Osorio. He led the team through a fantastic qualifying campaign and secured the spot in the Russia 2018 tournament. Mexico’s Javier Hernandez, the amazing goal-scorer, who has been nicknamed “Chicharito” took the team to a great win with Real Madrid in 2014.
This team qualified for Russia 2018 with a dramatic score of 2-1 against Costa Rica. The Colombian coach Hernan Dario Gomez is the one to make history by guiding the team to their very first FIFA World Cup appearance. He coached Ecuador in 2002 and Columbia in 1998. Roman Torres scored the qualifying goal against Costa Rica and put his team in this World Cup. Much attention is on Blas Perez, the forward has scored 11 qualifying campaign goals in 4 world cups.
Ranking 4th in FIFA, Argentina has 2 title wins from 5 appearances in the World Cup finals. Jorge Sampoli guided Chile at the Brazil 2014 knockout stages. His well-guided coaching has brought the team to The Russia 2018 World Cup. When we address Argentina, Lionel Messi is the core of the team and one of the best footballers in the world. Voted Fifa’s player of the year, Messi is going the make his 4th appearance in this World Cup 2018.
Brazil is the first team to secure their spot in the Russia 2018 World Cup on 28th March. This team is ranked 2nd and is the team to have grabbed 5 championships. Their coach Tite joined in June 2016 and Brazil has made remarkable transformation ever since. Brazil has won 9 games back to back to join the host Russia at the finals. The Olympic gold-medalist is the eye candy for this team. This is going to be his 2nd appearance at the World Cup. He won the 2015 FIFA Club World Cup when he was with his former team Barcelona.
Having made 5 appearances before, Columbia booked their spot in this year’s World Cup on the last match-day by securing a 1-1 draw in Peru. The Adidas Golden Boot winner James Rodriguez is the team’s centre of attention at the moment. He won 2 FIFA Club World Cup championships with Ream Madrid. He is expected to make a good deal of goals in this year’s World Cup.
Peru has made 4 appearances and is ranked 11 in FIFA. Peru got Ricardo Gareca as their coach in 2015. Gareca led La Blanquirroja to their first World Cup tournament in 36 years. Jefferson Farfan is the star of Peru. This 33 year old proved his worth in the qualifiers for Russia 2018. He made important goals in the team’s win over Paraguay and the play-off win against New Zealand. This is going to be his very first World Cup and he has many people expecting.
Uruguay has made it through the finals 12 out of 16 times. Oscar Washington Tabarez is the current coach of the team. With is an attack minded coach who has a fatherly approach towards his players as well Uruguay has joined the South America World Cup qualifiers. Luis Suarez is no wonder the best striker for the country as well as the club.
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2018 FIFA World Cup qualification groups