It is here with us again. The sweat, the tears, the magnificent goals, the trophy: who has not been waiting for this world cup? This 2018 World Cup edition is not going to be a walk int the park for the teams, evidently proven by the World cup qualifier tables. Arguably the most prestigious cup on the planet, the FIFA World Cup, is going to be battled out by the already qualified 32 teams from 6 confederations in Russia in a month’s time. However why don’t we journey a bit into the 2018 FIFA World Cup pre-qualifyig matches to see the chances pitted to all nations and a journey of the best of teams into the competition.
A total of 872 matches were played from 6 FIFA confederations worldwide with a summing number of goals at 2454.The range of the six tournaments were held worldwide from the 12 March 2015 to 15 November 2017 that saw 210 teams participating. This is recorded history that saw for the first time all nations signing in for the competition to qualify.
The World Cup Qualifiers 2018 were held in search for 31 teams with Russia directly qualifying as the hosts. Across the world, the qualifying rounds saw top scorers, Robert Lewandoski and Mohammad Al-Sahawi Ahmed Khalil each managing 16 goals. Peeking into two World Cup Qualifiers groups, Africa and South America, we shall get to have an overview of how it was form the first match-day, to the 2018 World Cup Draw.
In our esteemed continent Africa, the World Cup Qualifiers 2018 Africa was totally different from what was expected, in some way also disappointing bets (all ye beters).The total of 127 games that were played by the 54 CAF teams saw the five slots open for the world cup being filled by:
This confederation tournament saw a total 309 goals being scored with Mohammed Salah and Prejuce Nakoulma being the top scorers with 5 goals each. The total fan attendance stood at 2.86 million continent-wide. The World Cup Qualifiers Africa saw three Arabian countries through to the world cup tournament with the constant appearance of the Nigerian Super Eagles making them favorites from the continent. Dominant world cup qualifiers example the Cameroonians and 2014 quarter finalists the Ghanaians did not see it through as a result of the tough competition that saw them bow out of the qualifying rounds. The tournament that was played in three rounds, first and the second leg in the round robin format saw previous favorites Ghana finish third in Group E behind Egypt and Uganda while other favorites Cameroon and Algeria finish third and fourth respectively behind Nigeria and Zambia in Group B.
The World Cup Qualifiers Africa matches were however not without controversy. Such was that saw Zimbabwe being given a ban after failing to pay coach Jose Claudieni his severance fee. The same tournament saw referee Joseph Lamptey being handed a life ban by the Court for Arbitration for Sport (CAS) after officiating the game between South Africa and Senegal that was later replayed.
A lot of hopes are being stashed upon African World Cup Qualifiers to make history in Russia with star players such as the indisputable Mohammed Salah making their world cup debuts in the tournament. However, the 2018 World Cup Qualifiers Africa are not expected to find it easy in the hostile temperature and a handful of fans in the foreign nation to compete. Though FIFA have done greatly in equalizing the conditions, a lot of pressure is expected on all teams to deliver, a constant fear the players will have to deal with.
The other side of the world, saw a thrilling tournament with some of the best teams in the world including 2014 finalists Argentina and 2018 final favorites go back to back in search for the qualification spot. The world cup qualifiers in South America saw 10 teams participate with a total of 90 games played. A sum up of 242 goals were scored with star Edison Cavani bagging the title of most goals with a stunning 10.The very tightly contested 5 positions saw the Argentines almost losing out their place in the World Cup 2018.The tournament was round up by the stunning team Brazil that made away with the most points(41):
- Peru-had to play inter-confederations match before qualifying
This South America World Cup Qualifiers tournament was so tight that saw star team Chile bundled out of the tournament with only a goal difference of -1 and finishing in sixth behind Peru. The South America World Cup Qualifiers Table shows this quite clearly.
To that point, the struggle of the competition was quite seen and that it was fair to the winners of the competition. To be fair, this is a continent full of talent, overseeing world class players such the Argentine forward Lionel Messi, Colombian mid-fielder James Rodriguez and star left Marcelo from Brazil. It then only follows that most South American teams are considered favorites in this year’s edition of the FIFA World Cup 2018 with Brazil leading.
The World Cup Qualifiers South America and the Africa World Cup qualifiers have served to bring to the world scene some of the best players and coaches and whole teams to the world scene, but not leaving Europe behind, the hub of football.
Have you been to a tournament and an opponent team name sent chills down your spine , as a fan? Well that is what some of the veteran names of Europe are conceited in doing. Germany, England, Portugal. Just to mention but a few. Let it sink as you probably imagine of the squads such teams have, the lethal attack, solid wall defense lines and breath out. It will then hit you that their qualification was no downhill task, and that the road to the trophy not be one either. It was another Confederations tournament that brought surprises, shock and disappointments as some of the best and veteran names failed to qualify and paved way for the unimaginable.
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Talking of veteran names we consider teams like the Italians who failed to qualify for the first time since 1958 and the Dutch who were finalists in 2010 alongside Spain, were knocked out by Sweden in the playoffs round much to their disappointment. Apart from the Russians who gained an automatic qualification and only had to play in the international friendlies, other teams including the great Les Bleus of France had to sweat a way to their qualification. The final World Cup qualifiers Europe turned out to be the following teams:
- Russia(Automatic Qualification-host advantage)
- France(Group A Winners)
- Portugal(Group B Winners)
- Germany(Group C Winners)
- Serbia(Group D Winners)
- Poland(Group E Winners)
- England(Group F Winners)
- Spain(Group G Winners)
- Belgium(Group H Winners)
- Iceland(Group I Winners)
- Switzerland(Second Round Playoff Winners)
- Croatia(Second Round Playoff Winners)
- Sweden (Second Round Playoff Winners)
During the entire tournament, a total number of 278 matches were played with a total number of 807 goals being scored. The top scorer was star Robert Lewandoski with a total of 16 goals followed closely by Portuguese player Cristiano Ronaldo with of total of 15 goals. The tournament also came with a shocker when the smallest country participating in the 2018 World Cup drove past Group I to top and secure a spot in Russia.
All these entire confederation tournaments run successfully by the World Cup Qualifiers fixtures have also efficiently managed to serve another hot tasting entertaining cup of a month full of action in Russia. From the World Cup 2018 qualifiers Africa, to those in Europe and other 2018 FIFA world cup qualification groups, the FIFA World Cup 2018 Qualifiers are complete version of the quality of games expected to debut Russia next month.
Now that we have managed to survey the spot on teams from various confederations, why don’t we look at the draw and the poolings to see how this teams have been pitted against each other and probably predict the advancers to the round of 16.The World Cup Draw was done in Moscow, Russia on the May 11, 2018 drew the tables for the 32 Teams grouping them into four per group, Group A-Group H. Let us hawk over the groups to see which are easy to go through or those that are stone hard, rather, pools of death.
- SAUDI ARABIA
- COSTA RICA
- SOUTH KOREA
As it is seen, some the above groups might be easy and fun to play, in case example in groups A and H. Evident enough, some also maybe tough nuts to crack with examples in groups B and G. This is where the World Cup Qualifier results are put to test in some of the best heart testing games. These matches that are set to spark some serious emotions in the planet, are to be played in more than five stadiums all over Russia at specific times according to geological time zones.
The first match that will be the opener will see the hosts Russia take on Saudi Arabia in an intriguing match set for June 14,2018 at Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow 4:00 PM BST. Other stadiums including Samara, Rostov-on-don, Nizhny Novgorod and Sochi among others will play host to the teams during the entire month period. The action packed month will however end with the finals being played at the main stadium, Luzhniki in the capital Moscow.
The World Cup 2018 fixtures have been tailored in such a manner to bring competition throughout the games with the first matches carrying all the heat. Taking a good example is in Group B where there first match is set for former (2010) champs Spain to knock on giants Portugal in a stunning match on the Friday June 17,2018 at Sochi Stadium kicking off at 7:00 pm. If this does not evoke a spark, then what will? The fixtures then still slide along giving viewers ultimate satisfaction, leaving very few games out of the picture when it comes to action fulfillment.
At the most favorable winners of this year’s edition of the World Cup, there has been different predictions with the favorites ranging from France to Spain to Brazilians or even the Germans or as popularly known, the German Machines. In comparison to the fabulous and precisely unique players, formations and team strengths, it is very hard to pick a team since all this year’s are but only star- filled sides. I personally have no team yet to subscribe to since it is so hard to choose. Which do you support?
Regardless of your pick, it is a fact that the 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifications sieved only the best to the tournament. It is also fact that the teams too have to work their way up to the trophy level either to make history, retain history or shock the world. The hard fought ways to the level the teams are now are achievements, markable, but not the end of the history runs. The 2018 FIFA World Cup will also be debuting young upcoming stars e.g. Mo Salah (Egypt), Christian Eriksen (Denmark) and many more.
The 2018 World Cup qualifiers all have their national flags tied to their names. Tears of joy, sadness, disappointment, protest all lie within the 32 nations selected to play at the month long event. Task to them, celebration and cheers to us. I cannot believe it is finally here. Can you? Despite all that we say and in regards to the cup, basically, we have one thing in common. Go! Go! Go team Africa!
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