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Syria's Mourinho approach played down

Syria
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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.

The draw for the main sections of qualifying takes place on Saturday, July 25, 2015.

EUROPE:

13 places

• European qualifying home page

Qualifying for 2018...

India drawn against Saudi Arabia, UAE and Iran in AFC U-16

India have been drawn against two-time champions Saudi Arabia

Hosts India have been drawn alongside Iran, Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates (UAE) in Group A of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Under-16 Championship, to be played in Goa in September-October 2016.

Saudi Arabia have previosly won the tournament twice in 1985 and 1988, while Iran have won it once in 2008.

16 teams from around the confederation - including reigning champions DPR Korea, who defeated Korea Republic 2-1 in the 2014 edition final in Thailand - will be vying for top honours...

Benjamin Tan joins Premier League of Thailand, 2018 World Cup push

Thailand fans
Thai fans will be hoping their team can defend the AFF Suzuki Cup in November and December.

A former Singapore football administrator has landed a plumb job in Thailand to help the nation's efforts to qualify for the World Cup for the first time.

Benjamin Tan, the ex-deputy director of development and planning for Football Association of Singapore (FAS), is the new deputy CEO for the Premier League of Thailand (PLT) and director of club licensing.

The 39-year-old, who speaks fluent Thai and worked at the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) from 2008 to 2014, began his new role on Monday.

"Besides...

 By John Duerden

Qatar's Akram Afif chases La Liga dream, 2018 World Cup qualification

Akram Hassan Afif of Qatar vs. Saudi Arabia in AFC U23 Championship, January 2016
Akram Afif, centre, is hoping to become the first Qatari to play in La Liga.

If Qatar's biggest football dream was to host the 2022 World Cup, then a close second is to qualify for the 2018 edition. And it could happen with the Qataris among the 12 countries in the final round, trying to take one of Asia's four automatic spots in Russia.

Finishing in the top two in a group containing South Korea, Iran, Uzbekistan, China and Syria will be difficult but not impossible for a team who easily won their group in the second round of qualification. National team coach Jose Daniel...

AFC applauds lifting of Indonesia's FIFA ban, warns against repeat

With their ban lifted, Indonesia can now start preparing for November's AFF Suzuki Cup.

The Asian Football Confederation has applauded the ending of Indonesia's suspension from FIFA, but warned it would continue to fight any government interference in Southeast Asia's largest country.

The lifting of Indonesia's ban after almost 12 months was announced by FIFA President Gianni Infantino at Friday's FIFA Congress in Mexico City.

"The AFC Executive Committee reiterated this week their continued stand against government intervention in sport generally and soccer in particular," the Asian...