The qualification process for the 2018 World Cup in Russia is drawing to a close. So far, 11 teams have qualified for the world’s biggest tournament. Russia automatically qualified as the host country. The Asian Confederation (AFC) Qualifiers produced Iran, Japan, South Korea and Saudi Arabia. One more team from the AFC may qualify. Brazil has clinched a spot from South America (CONMEBOL) and Mexico and Costa Rica have locked up two of the North American (CONCACAF) spots. From Europe (UEFA), Belgium, Germany, England and Spain have secured their positions and Nigeria qualified from Africa (CAF). For most of the continental confederations, Tuesday, October 10th is the last regular match day and all but 7 of the World Cup spots will be clinched by Tuesday night. Here is a look at what the remaining teams need to do to book a trip to Russia.
AFC (Asian Confederation)
Remaining Games (October 10):
Syria at Australia
The Group Stage is done with four teams qualified. Syria and Australia finished 3rd in their respective groups and are playing a two-legged head-to-head match to determine which team will advance to the inter-confederation playoffs in November. The teams drew 1-1 in the first match. The winner of this game will earn the victory in the aggregate. If this game ends in a draw, the Away Goals tiebreaker will be used. Australia already has an away goal, so if the game ends 0-0, Australia will advance. If the game ends 1-1 the tiebreaker will be even and a penalty shootout will determine the winner. If the game ends in a draw with a score higher than 1-1, Syria will advance.
The winner of the Syria-Australia playoff will face the 4th place team from CONCACAF in the interconfederation playoffs.
CAF (African Confederation)
Remaining Games (November 6):
Libya at Tunisia
DR Congo at Guinea
Nigeria at Algeria
Cameroon at Zambia
Morocco at Ivory Coast
Mali at Gabon
Cabo Verde at Burkina Faso
Egypt at Ghana
Uganda at Republic of Congo
Senegal at South Africa
South Africa at Senegal
The African Confederation is split into five groups with the winner of each group advancing to the World Cup. Nigeria won their qualification group over former World Cup competitors Cameroon and Algeria. Unlike the other confederations, the final match day in CAF is not until November so these nations will need to wait another month to determine their World Cup fate. The initial game between South Africa and Senegal had the result vacated because the referee in the game was later given a lifetime ban from FIFA. This caused the initial match to be rescheduled for November, which could impact the results of Group D.
- Tunisia qualifies with a win or draw or a DR Congo loss or draw
- DR Congo qualifies with a win by more and a Tunisia loss
- Morocco qualifies with a win or draw
- Ivory Coast qualifies with a win over Morocco
Nigeria won Group C and qualified for the World Cup.
- If Burkina Faso and Cabo Verde Draw
- Senegal needs 1 win or draw in 2 games against South Africa to qualify
- South Africa needs 2 wins over Senegal to qualify
- If Burkina Faso or Cabo Verde win
- South Africa qualifies with 2 wins over Senegal
- Senegal qualifies with 1 win or 2 draws or with a loss and a draw if the Cabo Verde-Burkina Faso winner does not surpass them on Goal Differential
- The winner of Cabo Verde-Burkina Faso qualifies if South Africa wins once and draws once AND they surpass Senegal on goal differential (Currently: Senegal +4, Burkina Faso 0, Cabo Verde -4)
- Egypt qualifies with a win over Congo on October 8
- If Egypt and Congo draw
- Ghana is eliminated
- Egypt qualifies with a win over Ghana or a Uganda loss or draw
- Egypt qualifies with a draw against Ghana if Uganda wins by 1 or scores fewer than 3 goals
- Uganda qualifies with an Egypt draw if they beat Congo by more than 2
- Uganda qualifies with a win and an Egypt loss
- If Egypt loses to Congo
- Egypt qualifies with a win over Ghana
- Egypt qualifies with a draw and a Uganda loss or draw
- Uganda qualifies with a win and an Egypt draw or loss
- Ghana qualifies with a win and a Uganda loss or draw
UPDATE: EGYPT DEFEATED CONGO AND QUALIFIED FOR THE WORLD CUP
CONCACAF (North America)
Mexico at Honduras
Costa Rica at Panama
USA at Trinidad & Tobago
The CONCACAF features all 6 teams in a head-to-head round-robin “hexagonal.” The top 3 teams in the standings will automatically qualify for the World Cup and the fourth place team advances to the inter-confederation playoffs. Mexico has clinched the top spot and Costa Rica has clinched second.
- The United States qualifies with:
- a win against Trinidad & Tobago
- losses or draws by both Panama and Honduras
- a draw and a Panama win by fewer than 7 goals and a Honduras loss or draw
- a draw and a Honduras win by fewer than 12 goals and a Panama loss or draw
- Panama qualifies with
- a win and a US loss and a Honduras loss or draw
- a win by more than 7 and a US draw as long as Honduras doesn’t win by more than 12
- Honduras qualifies with
- a win and a US loss and a Panama loss or draw
- a win by more than 12 and a US draw as long as Panama doesn’t win by more than 7
- In a 3-way tie scenario between the US, Panama, and Honduras (US draw, Panama and Honduras win):
The first tiebreaker is Goal Differential. Currently US +5, Panama -2, Honduras -7. The second tiebreaker is goals scored. Currently US 16, Honduras 9, Panama 7.
The fourth place team from CONCACAF will face the winner of the Syria-Australia playoff from the AFC.
CONMEBOL (South America)
Chile at Brazil
Uruguay at Bolivia
Colombia at Peru
Argentina at Ecuador
Venezuela at Paraguay
The 10 South American teams play in a head-to-head round-robin qualification with 18 total matches. The top 4 teams qualify for the World Cup and the 5th place team advances to the Inter-Confederation playoffs. Brazil has qualified and Uruguay is assured of no worse than a 5th place finish. Ecuador, Bolivia, and Venezuela can not qualify. This leaves a wide open field of 6 teams fighting for the final 4 spots.
- Uruguay qualifies with a win or draw
- Chile, Colombia, Peru, and Argentina can qualify with a win
The Standings are determined by Points (3 for a win, 1 for a draw) then by Goal Differential then Goals Scored. If games end in draws, a number of tiebreaking scenarios could arise based on how the final standings shake out. Here is a look at the current standings for those in contention to qualify:
The fifth place team will face New Zealand in the inter-confederation playoffs.
New Zealand defeated the Solomon Islands by an 8-3 aggregate score in the final playoff to advance to the Inter-confederation playoffs. They will face the 5th place team from CONMEBOL.
The nations of Europe are divided into 9 qualification groups. The winner of each group automatically qualifies for the World Cup. The top 8 second-place finishers advance to head-to-head playoffs with the 4 winners advancing to the World Cup.
Remaining Games (October 10):
Belarus at France
Sweden at Netherlands
Bulgaria at Luxembourg
- France can finish no worse than second
- France qualifies with a win or a Sweden loss
- Sweden qualifies with a win and a France loss or draw
- If Sweden and the Netherlands draw
- France qualifies with a win or draw
- Sweden qualifies with a France loss
- Sweden finishes 2nd with a draw, a win and a France win, or a loss by less than 6
- Netherlands finishes 2nd with a win over Sweden by more than 6
Remaining Games (October 10):
Switzerland at Portugal
Faroe Islands at Hungary
Andorra at Latvia
- Only Switzerland and Portugal can finish 1st and 2nd. The second place team is guaranteed a spot in the playoffs.
- Switzerland qualifies with a win or draw
- Portugal qualifies with a win
Remaining Games (October 8):
Azerbaijan at Germany
Northern Ireland at Norway
San Marino at Czechia
- Germany has qualified for the World Cup and has clinched the group.
- Northern Ireland has clinched second place and can qualify for the playoffs with a win or draw.
UPDATE: NORTHERN IRELAND QUALIFIED FOR THE PLAYOFF
Remaining Games (October 9):
Georgia at Serbia
Ireland at Wales
Austria at Moldova
- If Serbia wins
- Serbia wins the group
- The winner of Wales-Ireland finishes second
- If Wales and Ireland draw, Wales finishes second
- If Serbia draws
- If Wales beats Ireland, Wales wins the group and Serbia is second
- If Wales and Ireland draw, Serbia wins the group and Wales is second
- If Ireland beats Wales, Serbia and Ireland will tie atop the group with the winner determined by Goal Differential (Currently: Serbia +9, Ireland +5).
- If Serbia loses
- The winner of Wales-Ireland will win the group and Serbia will be second
- If Wales and Ireland draw, Serbia and Wales will tie atop the group. If Serbia loses by 1, the Goals Scored tiebreaker will determine the group winner (Currently: Serbia 19, Wales 13). If Serbia loses by more than 1, Wales will win the group and Serbia will be second.
UPDATE: SERBIA DEFEATED GEORGIA AND QUALIFIED FOR THE WORLD CUP.
IRELAND DEFEATED WALES AND FINISHED SECOND, QUALIFYING FOR THE PLAYOFF
Remaining Games (October 8)
Montenegro at Poland
Romania at Denmark
Armenia at Kazakhstan
- Poland can finish no worse than second and is assured of a playoff berth.
- Poland wins the group with a win or draw or a Denmark loss or draw
- Denmark wins the group with a win and a Poland loss
- Denmark finishes at least second with a win or draw or a Montenegro loss or draw
- Montenegro finishes second with a win and a Denmark loss and winning a tiebreaker. Current Goal Differential: Denmark +12, Montenegro +10, Current Goals Scored: Denmark 19, Montenegro 18
Remaining Games (October 8)
England at Lithuania
Scotland at Slovenia
Malta at Slovakia
- England has won the group and qualified for the World Cup
- Scotland finishes second with a win
- Slovakia finishes second with a win and a Scotland loss or draw
- Slovenia finishes second with a win and a Slovakia loss or draw
- If Scotland and Slovenia draw
- Scotland finishes second with a Slovakia loss or draw
- Slovakia finishes second with a win
UPDATE: Slovakia defeated Malta and Scotland drew with Slovenia. Slovakia qualifies for the playoff IF Greece draws or loses and Bosnia-Herzegovina wins.
Remaining Games (October 9)
Spain at Israel
Italy at Albania
Liechtenstein at Macedonia
- Spain has won the group
- Italy has secured second place and a spot in the playoff
Remaining Games (October 10)
Cyprus at Belgium
Bosnia-Herzegovina at Estonia
Gibraltar at Greece
- Belgium has won the group and qualified for the World Cup
- Greece finishes second with a win or a Bosnia & Herzegovina loss or draw. Greece will qualify for the playoffs if they finish second.
- Bosnia & Herzegovina finishes second with a win and a Greece loss or draw but can not qualify for the playoffs
Remaining Games (October 9)
Kosovo at Iceland
Croatia at Ukraine
Turkey at Finland
- Iceland will finish at least second and is assured of a playoff berth.
- Iceland wins the group with a win over Kosovo or if Croatia and Ukraine draw
- If Iceland wins, the winner of Croatia-Ukraine finishes second. If Croatia and Ukraine draw, Croatia finishes second.
- If Iceland draws
- Croatia wins the group with a win
- Ukraine wins the group with a win by more than 1
- If Ukraine wins by 1, Goals Scored tiebreaker will determine the group winner. Currently Iceland 7, Ukraine 7.
- If Iceland loses
- The winner of Croatia-Ukraine wins the group and Iceland is second
- If Croatia and Ukraine draw, Iceland wins the group and Croatia is second
UPDATE: ICELAND WON AND QUALIFIED FOR THE WORLD CUP.
CROATIA DEFEATED UKRAINE AND FINISHED SECOND AND QUALIFIED FOR THE PLAYOFFS.