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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...

ESPN FC  By ESPN staff

World Cup qualifying: New Zealand thrash Vanuatu to book passage

Chris Wood, New Zealand
Chris Wood netted twice in the win over Vanuatu.

New Zealand cruised into the third round of Oceania World Cup qualifying with a 5-0 thrashing of Vanuatu in the OFC Nations Cup.

The All Whites' goals came in the first half, as coach Anthony Hudson also moved his team to the brink of a place in next week's OFC Nations Cup semifinals.

Captain Chris Wood netted twice in the opening six minutes, before Michael McGlinchey added the third in the 10th minute. Rory Fallon made it 4-0 on 19 minutes with Kosta Barbarouses,...

ESPN FC  By ESPN staff

Tahiti thrash Samoa in World Cup qualifying, New Caledonia held by PNG

Tahiti took control of their World Cup qualifying group on Sunday with a 4-0 thrashing of Samoa.

The second round of qualifying in the Oceania region doubles as the OFC Nations Cup, taking place in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea, with the winners going on to take part in next summer's Confederations Cup in Russia.

Tahiti are the current holders of the OFC title, and represented the region at the Confed Cup in Brazil three years ago -- where they lost 6-1 to Nigeria, 10-0 to Spain and 8-0 to Uruguay.

Coach...

ESPN FC  By ESPN staff

World Cup qualifying: New Zealand and Solomon Islands make winning starts

Chris Wood, New Zealand
Chris Wood wrapped up New Zealand's win from the spot.

New Zealand made a winning start to their Oceania Nations Cup Group B campaign when they beat Fiji 3-1 in Papua New Guinea to boost their World Cup qualifying bid.

The All Whites took the lead after 16 minutes when Themi Tzimopoulos scored his first international goal and seemed in complete control when Rory Fallon added a second three minutes before half-time.

Fiji cut the deficit in first-half stoppage time when striker Roy Krishna converted from the penalty spot.

But New Zealand wrapped up the...

ESPN FC  By ESPN staff

World Cup qualifying draw: Spain land Italy in group stages

ESPN FC's Mark Donaldson and Steve Nicol break down Scotland's World Cup qualifying group, where they'll meet an old frenemy in England.
The U.N.'s Special Adviser for Sport believes Blatter should receive recognition for the positive aspects of his tenure.

The draw for the preliminary stages of the 2018 World Cup has been taken with France taking on Netherlands, Spain and Italy drawn in the same group and England finding themselves placed with Scotland.

Germany will start defending their World Cup title in a six-team UEFA pool where the Czech Republic seems the biggest barrier to advancing as group winners.

"I'm happy that we won't play against France or Italy," said former German international and current team official Oliver Bierhoff.

Italy, the...