23 of the 32 teams have qualified for the 2018 World Cup so far ,after a dramatic night on Tuesday. Some countries very familiar to the biggest sporting event on the planet, have also been eliminated.
In Iceland and Panama, there are also two total newcomers so far.
From Europe, hosts Russia along with France, Portugal, Germany, Serbia, Poland, England, Spain, Belgium as well as the above-mentioned Icelandic team have qualified directly for the World Cup.
Meanwhile, Sweden, Switzerland, Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland, Denmark, Italy, Greece and Croatia have reached the playoffs, from which four of them will also qualify. The Netherlands is the biggest name absent here. It is also noteworthy that Switzerland could still miss the tournament, despite having won their first nine qualifying matches.
In South America, Brazil stole the show and qualified before any other team in the world (besides hosts Russia). We had to wait for the other three direct qualifiers until Tuesday night. They are Uruguay, Argentina and Colombia, while Peru gets a surprising second chance in an intercontinental playoff vs. New Zealand.
Here, South American champions Chile are most notably missing.
Africa is the only continent that continues its group qualifying into November, since it has no later playoffs. Therefore, three of its five qualifiers are yet to be determined. What we can report, is that Nigeria and Egypt have already qualified.
African champions Cameroon, as well as Algeria and Ghana are the biggest names that cannot mathematically qualify there.
Asia has ended the group portion of its qualifying in September, due to its continental playoff in October and its intercontinental playoff in November. Its direct qualifiers are Iran, South Korea, Japan and Saudi Arabia.
Australia has ended Syria’s historic qualifying campaign in extra time of a two-legged playoff. The “Socceroos” therefore move on to the intercontinental phase.
In the CONCACAF region, Mexico was dominant and qualified early. Costa Rica followed them last week. Before the final round of games last night, everything looked as though the United States would clinch the third and final direct spot from the region.
However bizarre results that evening put Panama on the third direct spot and Honduras into forth, which means that the latter will face Australia in the playoff. It also means that for the first time since 1986, the US will not go to a World Cup.
But despite these strange results, or rather because of them, we look forward to the last qualifying round next month and the future of soccer in general.