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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...

Tottenham's Nabil Bentaleb to miss six weeks after knee surgery

Tottenham's Nabil Bentaleb has helped Algeria reach the second round of the World Cup.
Nabil Bentaleb will not be able to play for Algeria or Tottenham in the coming weeks.

Tottenham's Nabil Bentaleb is unlikely to play again this season after being ruled out for six weeks following knee surgery.

The midfielder was replaced after 25 minutes of Tottenham's under-21 win over Leicester City on Friday and he underwent a scan on Monday which revealed knee ligament damage.

He has withdrawn from...

ESPN FC  By ESPN staff

Manchester City's Yaya Toure to return for Ivory Coast after call-up

Yaya Toure lifted the African Nations Cup in 2015.

Manchester City midfielder Yaya Toure has been named in Ivory Coast's squad for their upcoming African Nations Cup qualifiers against Sudan.

Toure, 32, has not featured for Ivory Coast since helping the team lift the African Nations Cup in February 2015.

But the former Barcelona player, who has 100 caps to his name, is set to return to the international fold for his country's matches against Sudan this month.

"Yaya Toure had requested a break, which was understandable. He had given much to the selection...

ESPN FC  By ESPN staff

FIFA election: The mood within the global confederations

ESPN FC's Gab Marcotti and Jeremy Schaap weigh in on Gianni Infantino's appointment as the new president of FIFA.
Gianni Infantino wins on the second ballot with 115 of the 207 votes.
ESPN's Jeremy Schaap discusses the new reality of FIFA as Gianni Infantino was elected the next FIFA president.

Before Friday's presidential election, ESPN FC writers based in each of the six FIFA regions explain their local moods and share what they will hope for from the new man in charge.

Europe (UEFA)

The European game is thought of as club-centric for one reason: It is. Accordingly, many will have the third-party ownership ban in their sights, as clubs below the very top level seek to protect their rights to strengthen squads with an eye on future profit.

Another big area of concern might be Infantino's...

South Sudan, Liberia defy CAF and pledge votes for Infantino, Prince Ali

GENEVA -- Two FIFA voters have defied African soccer leaders by endorsing rival candidates in the presidential election for Sepp Blatter's successor.

South Sudan pledged its vote for Gianni Infantino, the UEFA general secretary from Switzerland, and Liberia declared for former FIFA vice president Prince Ali Al Hussein of Jordan on Saturday.

They followed Egypt, which Prince Ali said publicly promised its vote to him on Friday, hours after a key move by the Confederation of African Football's executive...