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ESPN FC  By ESPN staff

2018 World Cup qualifying - how it works

The qualifying process for the 2018 World Cup began on March 12, 2015 with preliminary ties between the 12 lowest-ranked nations in Asia.

Chiquito Do Carmo of Timor-Leste had the honour of scoring the very first goal on the road to Russia in a 4-1 victory at home to Mongolia.

There are 31 places up for grabs, joining hosts Russia.



13 places

• European qualifying home page

Qualifying for 2018 sees seven groups of six nations and two groups of five. 


Ange Postecoglou to help Socceroos find new clubs in January

Jason Dasey and Matt Smith break down Thailand's resilient effort in their 2-2 draw against Australia in WCQ.
Ange Postecoglou is ready to help his Socceroos find new clubs in January.

With key internationals facing make-or-break decisions over their club future, Socceroos coach Ange Postecoglou says he's ready to help them find new homes.

But the national team boss isn't as worried as some by senior Australians missing out at club level.

Two starters in Australia's underwhelming 2-2 draw with Thailand are persona non grata when it comes to selection at their top-tier clubs.

Mat Ryan and Robbie Kruse are playing in two of the biggest leagues on the planet but can't get a look...

Adelaide to host Socceroos' WCQ match against Saudi Arabia in March

Australia vs. Thailand
Australia will take on Saudi Arabia in a crucial World Cup qualifier in March at the Adelaide Oval.

The Socceroos will host next year's vital World Cup qualifier with Saudi Arabia at the Adelaide Oval.

Football Federation Australia chief executive David Gallop is set to announce on Tuesday that the Jun. 8 fixture will be played in the South Australian capital.

With Saudi Arabia leading qualifying Group B and the Socceroos a point adrift in third, the clash shapes as a potential make-or-break on the road to Russia 2018.

Australia have five games left in the final phase of qualifying to make the...

Socceroos must stick with Jamie Maclaren - Brisbane Roar coach Aloisi

Jason Dasey and Matt Smith break down Thailand's resilient effort in their 2-2 draw against Australia in WCQ.

Brisbane Roar coach John Aloisi is certain Jamie Maclaren will eventually become a permanent Socceroo despite an inauspicious showing on his competitive debut.

Maclaren was thrown up front by coach Ange Postecoglou in Tuesday night's World Cup qualifier but like the rest of the team, was a long way from his best in a disappointing 2-2 draw with Thailand.

The 23-year-old, whose only prior experience with the national team was in a friendly match against England earlier this year, might have been...

ESPN FC  By Dale Johnson

Argentina, Netherlands, Japan and Ghana in danger of missing World Cup

Alejandro Moreno talks how Brazil and Argentina are looking following the latest round of World Cup qualifiers.

With 12 months to go before we know the 31 teams who will join hosts Russia at the 2018 World Cup, we take a look at some of the major nations and familiar names who appear to have a battle on their hands to make the finals.

Argentina and Chile

Argentina's 3-0 defeat in Brazil last week left them facing a huge crisis in their qualification bid. However, victory at home to Colombia on Tuesday averted this for now, as at least that win left them fifth and that offers a playoff against the winners of...