Football World Cup 2018 Qualifiers Table » All Regions Covered

The 21st FIFA World Cup is scheduled from 14 June 2018 to 15 July 2018, in Russia. The tournament features 32 teams, which includes the host Russia and 31 teams who have topped the qualifying tournaments.

The six FIFA confederations organised a series of tournaments to select the member countries who would participate in the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia.

The FIFA confederates held tournaments in their respective regions – Europe, Asia, South America, North America, Africa, and Oceania.

Qualification – How it Works

The qualification process for the FIFA 2018 World Cup was through a series of tournaments, in which all the 210 member countries could participate. These tournaments were organised by the six FIFA confederates, and 31 out of the 32 countries selected for the FIFA 2018 World Cup was selected from the winners.

The 32nd country, Russia, is the host country of the FIFA 2018 World Cup, and as such, qualifies automatically, without having to play the qualifiers. The schedules for the qualifiers were held by draw of lots.

The qualifiers for the 2018 World Cup were unique as all eligible teams registered to participate in the qualifying tournaments. Several countries, such as Bhutan Gibraltar, Kosovo, and South Sudan were participating for the first time ever. Indonesia and Zimbabwe were, however, disqualified from the tournaments for various reasons.


The six FIFA confederates are Union of European Football Associations (UEFA,) Asian Football Confederation (AFC,) South American Football Federation (CONMEBOL,) The Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF,) Confederation of African Football (CAF,) and the Oceania Football Confederation (OFC).

The Confederation of African Football, the FIFA affiliate, conducts the Preliminary Competition, for the five berths allotted to it. The teams who contended for the five spots are Algeria, Angola, Benin, Bostwana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Cape Verde Islands, Mali, Central African Republic, Ethiopia, Chad, Comoros, Sudan, Congo, Congo DR, Côte d’Ivoire, Tunisia, Djibouti, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritania, Mauritius, Zambia, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Sao Tome e Principe, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Africa, South Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania, Togo, and Uganda. Only Zimbabwe, among the 54 member states of the Confederation of African Football could not participate, as the Zimbabwe Football Union was suspended for not paying severance fees to its former coach.

The qualifiers were conducted in three rounds. All teams participated in the first two rounds, out of which the toppers entered the third round. The third round was divided into five groups, and the toppers of each group qualifying to represent Africa in the World Cup to be held in Russia. The five African countries that qualified ware Tunisia, Nigeria, Morocco, Senegal, and Egypt.

The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) has 4.5 slots, of four direct slots and one play-off slot among two continents.

The 46 member nations of AFC participated in the qualifiers, which extended over five rounds. The AFC itself is a conglomeration of many football federations. The West Asian Football federation consists of Iraq, Bahrain, Jordan, Oman, Kuwait, Lebanon, Palestine, Qatar, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, and United Arab Emirates. The Central Asian Football Association (CAFA) consists of Iran, Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Krygistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan. The South Asian Football Federation (SAFF) consists of India, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal, Maldives, Sri Lanka, and Pakistan. The East Asian Football Federation (EAFF) consists of China, Hong Kong, Macau, Chinese Taipei, Guam, Japan, North Korea, South Korea, Mongolia, and Northern Mariana Islands. The ASEAN Football Federation (AFF) consists of Australia, Cambodia, Vietnam, East Timor, Brunei, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand, and Philippines.

The 12 lowest ranked teams participated in the first round, playing home-and-away matches. Six top teams proceeded to the next round, where there were joined by the next 34 lowest ranked teams. The 40 teams were divided into eight groups of five teams each, playing round-robin matches. The eight winners advanced to the third round, and also qualified for the 2019 AFC Asian Cup finals.

In the third round, the eight round toppers joined two top-ranked teams. The teams were divided into two groups, with each group consisting of six teams. The top two teams in each group qualified for the FIFA 2018 World Cup directly. The two third-placed teams advanced to the fourth round.

In the fourth round, the two third-placed teams from the third round played home-and-away matches over two legs, with the winner advancing to the inter-confederation play-offs.

Iran, South Korea, Japan, and Saudi Arabia qualified directly to the 2018 World Cup at Russia. Australia qualified for the inter-continental play-off, and also advanced to the World Cup, beating Honduras in the play-off.

The 54 members of Union of European Football Associations (UEFA), the FIFA confederate, were divided into nine groups of six teams each, and all teams in a group played home-and-away matches against each other, in a round-robin format, to qualify for the 13 available slots. UEFA has fourteen slots in total for the World Cup, but Russia, by being the host country, qualifies automatically. The group toppers went through the FIFA 2018 World Cup automatically, In addition, the eight best runners-up advanced to the next round.

The teams involved in UEFA are Albania, Andorra, Armenia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, England, Estonia, Faroe Islands, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Gibraltar, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland , Israel, Italy, Kazakhstan, Kosovo, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Malta, Moldova, Montenegro, Netherlands, Northern Ireland, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Scotland, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland,Turkey, Ukraine, and Wales. Among them, France, Portugal, Germany, Serbia, Poland, England, Spain, Belgium, and Iceland topped the nine groups and qualified directly to the World Cup. Among the group runners-up, Croatia, Sweden, Denmark, and Switzerland won their playoffs and qualified for the 2018 World Cup.

Among the qualifiers, Iceland has qualified for the first time. The qualifiers were played on two legs, between 9 November 2017 to 11 November 2017, and between 12 November 2017 to 14 November 2017.

CONCACAF has 3.5 slots, or three direct slots and one play-off slot, in the FIFA 2018 World Cup in Russia. The CONCACAF member nations are United States of America, Canada, Mexico, Cuba, Costa Rica, Belize, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Guatemala, The Bahamas, Bermuda, Panama, Anguilla, Dominica, Antigua and Barbuda, Aruba, Barbados, Bonaire, Cayman Islands, Peurto Rico, British Virgin Islands, Curaçao, Grenada, Dominican Republic, French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Guyana, Jamaica, Haiti, Martinique, Montserrat, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Suriname, Saint Lucia, Saint-Martin, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Sint Maarten Sint Maarten, Trinidad and Tobago, Turks and Caicos Islands, and United States Virgin Islands.

The extensive qualifying tournaments conducted by CONCACAF had five rounds. The first three rounds were knockout rounds, and the fourth and final round were in group format. In the first round, the 14 lowest ranked teams played each other at home and away. The seven top teams joined eleven other teams in the next round, which was in the same format. Ten toppers advanced to the third round, where they were joined by two other teams, immediately higher to them in ranking. The twelve teams again repeated the format, the six top teams proceeding to the fourth round.

In the fourth round, the top six ranked teams joined the six teams who qualified from the third round. Six teams, or the top two teams in each group advanced to the fifth and final round.

In the fifth and final round, commonly referred to as the “hexagonal,” the six teams competed against each other two types, one at home, and the other at the opponent’s home ground. The top three teams qualified directly for the FIFA 2018 World Cup at Russia. The fourth-placed team went on to play the play-offs with the Oceania group.

Mexico, Costa Rica and Panama, being the top three teams, qualified for Russia. The fourth team, Honduras advanced to play qualifiers against Australia, but lost.

An interesting fact of the CONCACAF qualifiers is the United States failing to qualify for the World Cup for the first time since 1986, and Panama qualifying for the World Cup for the first time ever.

CONMEBOL, the South American Football Federation, and FIFA affiliate conducts the qualifiers for the FIFA World Cup. The qualifying tournament for FIFA 2018 consisted of a double round robin tournament, with the matches scheduled in nine closely spaced double round pairs. Every team plays twice in each double round, with one home match and one away match.

The ten member nations of CONMEBOL are Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Paraguay, Uruguay and Venezuela. For the World Cup 2018 in Russia, the Preliminary Competition offers four and a half berths to South America at the FIFA 2018 World Cup. While Uruguay, Brazil, Columbia, and Argentina qualified through the preliminary competition. Peru qualified after beating New Zealand in the inter-continental play-off.

The Oceania Football Confederation (OFC), the FIFA affiliate conducts the qualifiers for FIFA World Cup. The 11 member strong OFC is allotted only 0.5 slots, or one inter-confederation play-off slot in the final tournament at Russia.

The eleven members are New Zealand, Fiji, Solomon islands, American Samoa, Cook Island, Kiribati, New Caledonia, Niue, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, French Polynesia Tonga, Tuvalu, and Vanuatu. Significantly, Australia is not in the OFC. In 2006, the Football Federation of Australia (FFA), left the OFC and became a member of the Asian Football Confederation.

The 2016 edition of the OFC Nations Cup doubled as the second round of the OFC qualifying competition for the 2018 FIFA World Cup. The tournament was held in three rounds.

In the first round, held in a round-robin format, the four lowest ranked teams, American Samoa, Cook Islands, Samoa, and Tonga made a playoff, with the winner advancing to the second round.

The winner of the first round joined seven other teams, Fiji, New Caledonia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Tahiti, Vanuatu, in the second round, which was the OFC Nations Cup. This round had four teams each in two groups. The top three teams from each round advanced to the third round.

The six teams advancing from the second round were divided into two groups of three teams each. The two group toppers met in two matches, with the winner advancing to the play-off with Peru.

In the play-off, New Zealand lost to Peru, meaning there is no representative from the OFC in the FIFA 2018 World Cup at Russia.