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The FIFA World Cup qualification is the process that a national association football team goes through to qualify for the FIFA World Cup Finals. The FIFA World Cup is a global event, so qualification is required to reduce the large field of participants from about 200 to 32.

Qualifying tournaments are held within the six FIFA continental zones (Africa, Asia, North and Central America and Caribbean, South America, Oceania, Europe), and are organized by their respective confederations. For each tournament, FIFA decides beforehand the number of spots awarded to each of the continental zones, based on the numbers and/or relative strength of the confederations' teams. 2010 FIFA World Cup qualification commenced in 2007 and finished in late 2009.

The hosts of the World Cup receive an automatic berth in the finals. Unlike many other sports, results of the previous World Cups or of the continental championships are not taken into account. Until 2002, the defending champions also received an automatic berth, but starting from the 2006 World Cup this is no longer the case.

History[edit]

Over many years, the World Cup's qualification has evolved, from having no qualification at all in 1930, when the tournament was invitational and only 13 teams entered, to the current two-year process. The first World Cup qualifying match was played on 11 June 1933 when Sweden defeated Estonia 6–2 in Stockholm. The first ever goal in a World Cup qualifying match was scored 7 minutes into the game: it was scored according to some sources by Swedish captain Knut Kroon, or according to other sources by Estonian goalkeeper Evald Tipner (own goal).

While the number of teams which qualified for the finals has increased steadily, from 16 between 1934 and 1978, to 24 between 1982 and 1994, and finally to 32 starting from 1998, the qualification format has been basically the same throughout the history of the World Cup. The teams have been grouped continentally, and they competed for a fixed number of berths, with one or two berths reserved for winners of the intercontinental play-offs.

Qualification spots by continent[edit]

The table below lists the numbers of spots allocated by FIFA for each continent in each tournament. No spots for a continent, such as in the case of Oceania prior to 1966 and Africa in 1950, do not indicate an exclusion of those continents by FIFA, but rather that no country of those continents made an entry to the aforementioned Cups.[1]

A large part of the African territory lived under colonial rule during part of the 20th century, mainly the first half of the century. By 1954, only 3 African countries were affiliated to FIFA: Egypt, in 1923, Sudan, in 1948, and Ethiopia, in 1952.[2] Sudan and Ethiopia made entries for no Cup prior to 1958. Egypt made entries for the 1934, 1938 and 1954 Cups, though not for the 1930 and 1950 Cups. Though an African country, Egypt entered in 1938 and 1954 into the European group, therefore the table below indicates no data about Africa for these 2 Cups.

Places in the intercontinental play-offs count as 0.5 spots. Numbers in bold represent the winners of the intercontinental play-offs. "+C" denotes an additional spot for defending champions. "+H" denotes an additional spot for hosts.

Places allocated for continents
Continental zone 1934
Italy
(16)
1938
France
(15)1
1950
Brazil
(13)2
1954
Switzerland
(16)
1958
Sweden
(16)
1962
Chile
(16)
1966
England
(16)
1970
Mexico
(16)
1974
West Germany
(16)
1978
Argentina
(16)
1982
Spain
(24)
1986
Mexico
(24)
1990
Italy
(24)
1994
United States
(24)
1998
France
(32)
2002
South Korea
Japan
(32)
2006
Germany
(32)6
2010
South Africa
(32)
2014
Brazil
(32)
2018
Russia
(32)
2022
Qatar
(32)
Africa 1 0 0.53 0.54 1 1 1 1 2 2 2 3 5 5 5 5
+H
5    
Asia 1 12 1 0.54 1 1 1 2 2 2 2 3.5 2.5
+2H
4.5 4.5 4.5   H
Oceania 0 0.5 0.5 0.255 0.5 0.5 0.5 0.5 0.5    
Europe 12 111
+C+H
72
+C
11
+H
9.53
+C+H
8+4
2×0.5
9
+H
8
+C
8.5
+H
8.5
+C
13
+H
12.5
+C
13
+H
12
+C
14
+H
13.5
+C
13
+H
13 13 H  
North and Central America
and Caribbean
1 1 2 1 1 0.5 1 1
+H
1 1 2 1
+H
2 1.255
+H
3 3 3.5 3.5 3.5    
South America 2 1 4
+H
1
+C
3 3.5
+C+H
3
+C
3 2.5
+C
2.5
+H
3
+C
4 2.5
+C
3.55 4
+C
4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5
+H
   
Total 16 16 16 16 16 16 16 16 16 16 24 24 24 24 32 32 32 32 32 32 32
  • 1 In 1938, Austria withdrew after qualifying due to being annexed by Germany and were not replaced, so only 15 teams, 12 of them European, played in the finals.
  • 2 In 1950, India, Scotland and Turkey withdrew after qualifying and were not replaced, so only 13 teams, none of them Asian and 6 of them European, played in the finals.
  • 3 Initially in 1958, Africa and Asia together were given 1 spot, while Europe was given 9 spots. However, after Israel won the African and Asian zone without playing any matches due to withdrawals of other teams, a special play-off was arranged between them and a European team (Wales). So in effect, Africa and Asia together were given 0.5 spots, while Europe was given 9.5 spots.
  • 4 In 1962, Europe was given 8 automatic spots, plus 2 additional spots in the intercontinental play-offs, in effect giving them 9 spots. The two European teams played an African team and an Asian team respectively, and both European teams won. Therefore, 10 European teams played in the finals.
  • 5 In 1994, there were two rounds of intercontinental play-offs. First, an Oceanian team played a team from North and Central America and Caribbean, and the winner then played a South American team.
  • 6 From the 2006 qualifiers on, the defending champion no longer has an automatic spot secured.

Qualification competition entrants over time[edit]

The number of teams entering the qualification process and the number of matches played have been steadily growing over time. Though an African country, Egypt entered in 1938 and 1954 into the European group, therefore being zero the below indicator as for Africa in these years.

Number of teams entering qualification (including automatic qualifiers)
Continental zone 1934
Italy
(16)
1938
France
(15)
1950
Brazil
(13)
1954
Switzerland
(16)
1958
Sweden
(16)
1962
Chile
(16)
1966
England
(16)
1970
Mexico
(16)
1974
West Germany
(16)
1978
Argentina
(16)
1982
Spain
(24)
1986
Mexico
(24)
1990
Italy
(24)
1994
United States
(24)
1998
France
(32)
2002
South Korea
Japan
(32)
2006
Germany
(32)
2010
South Africa
(32)
2014
Brazil
(32)
2018
Russia
(32)
2022
Qatar
(32)
Africa 3 0 0 0 11 6 21 13 24 26 29 29 26 40 38 51 51 53 51
Asia 2 4 3 5 7 18 22 21 27 26 29 36 42 39 43 43
Oceania1 0 0 0 0 0 0 4 5 7 10 10 12 11 11
Europe 21 26 19 29 29 30 33 31 33 32 34 33 33 39 50 51 52 53 53
North and Central America
and Caribbean
4 7 3 5 6 8 10 14 14 17 15 18 16 23 30 35 34 35 35
South America 4 2 8 6 9 9 10 10 10 10 10 10 10 9 10 10 10 10 10
Total entrants 32 37 34 45 55 56 74 75 99 107 109 121 116 147 174 199 198 2053 203
Teams played2 27 21 19 33 46 49 51 68 90 95 103 110 103 130 168 193 194 2003 203
Matches played 27 22 26 57 89 92 127 172 226 252 306 308 314 497 643 777 847 853 828
Goals scored 141 96 121 208 341 325 393 542 620 723 797 801 735 1446 1922 2452 2464 2344 /
Average goals per match 5.22 4.36 4.65 3.65 3.83 3.53 3.09 3.15 2.74 2.87 2.60 2.60 2.34 2.91 2.99 3.16 2.91 2.75 /
  • 1 Because the Oceania Football Confederation has used the World Cup Qualifiers as a phase of (or as the entire) Oceania Nations Cup, there is the possibility for non-FIFA countries to enter in matches that double as World Cup qualifiers. In the 2006 qualifiers, New Caledonia were included in the tournament although they were not FIFA members at the date of close of entries. They are, however, included in the 12 nations listed as they joined FIFA during the course of qualification, even though they had been technically eliminated from contention a few days earlier (a similar situation occurred in the entries for 2010, with Montenegro's entry accepted prior to their admission by FIFA). By contrast, Tuvalu competed in the 2007 South Pacific Games Football tournament, which doubled as qualifiers for the 2010 World Cup. They are not included in the 11 OFC entrants, although their results counted towards the qualification of other teams.
  • 2 "Teams played" is the total number of teams that played at least one qualifying match.
  • 3 This number include Tuvalu and South Africa. Although South Africa qualified automatically for 2010 as hosts, they competed in the CAF qualifiers, becoming the first hosts to compete in World Cup qualifying since 1934. This is because the Confederation of African Football used its 2010 World Cup qualifiers as the qualifying phase for the 2010 Africa Cup of Nations, a tournament for which South Africa had to attempt to qualify.

First appearance in qualification by team[edit]

World Cup Europe South America North, Central America and Caribbean Asia Africa Oceania Total
Italy
1934
 Austria
 Belgium
 Bulgaria
 Czechoslovakia
 Estonia
 France
 Germany
 Greece
 Hungary
 Irish Free State
 Italy1
 Lithuania
 Luxembourg
 Netherlands
 Poland
 Portugal
 Romania
 Spain
 Sweden
  Switzerland
 Turkey
 Yugoslavia
 Brazil
 Peru
 Argentina
 Chile2
 Cuba
 Haiti
 Mexico
 United States
 Palestine, British Mandate  Egypt none 27
France
1938
 Finland
 Latvia
 Norway
 Colombia  Costa Rica
 Suriname
 El Salvador
 Japan
 Dutch East Indies
none none 4
Brazil
1950
 England
 Northern Ireland
 Scotland
 Wales
 Yugoslavia3
 Bolivia
 Paraguay
 Ecuador
 Uruguay
none  Israel4
 Syria
 Burma
 Philippines
 Indonesia
 India
none none 7
Switzerland
1954
 Saar
 Turkey
 West Germany
 Brazil
 Chile
 Paraguay
none  Japan
 South Korea
 Republic of China
 South Vietnam
none none 8
Sweden
1958
 Denmark
East Germany East Germany
 Iceland
 Soviet Union
 Argentina
 Bolivia
 Colombia
 Peru
 Uruguay
 Venezuela
 Canada
 Costa Rica
 Guatemala
 Netherlands Antilles
 China PR
 Indonesia
 Sudan
 Ethiopia
none 17
Chile
1962
 Cyprus  Ecuador
 Suriname
 Honduras none  Ethiopia
 Ghana
 Morocco
 Nigeria
 Tunisia
 United Arab Republic
none 10
England
1966
 Albania  Venezuela  Jamaica
 Trinidad and Tobago
 North Korea  Congo
 Liberia
 Guinea
 Algeria
 Libya
 Cameroon
 Mali
 Senegal
 Gabon
 South Africa
 Australia 6
Mexico
1970
none none  Bermuda
 El Salvador
none  Algeria
 Cameroon
 Libya
 Rhodesia
 Senegal
 Zambia
 New Zealand 9
West Germany
1974
 Malta none  Antigua and Barbuda
 Puerto Rico
 Hong Kong
 Iran
 Iraq
 Kuwait
 Malaysia
 South Vietnam
 Thailand
 Congo
 Ivory Coast
 Dahomey
 Guinea
 Kenya
 Lesotho
 Mauritius
 Madagascar
 Sierra Leone
 Tanzania
 Togo
 Zaire
none 21
Argentina
1978
none  Guyana
 Suriname5
 Barbados
 Dominican Republic
 Panama
 Bahrain
 Chinese Taipei
 Qatar
 Saudi Arabia
 Singapore
 Sri Lanka
 United Arab Emirates
 Malawi
 Mauritania
 Niger
 Uganda
 Upper Volta
 Central African Republic
none 15
Spain
1982
none none  Grenada  Macau  Gambia
 Liberia
 Madagascar
 Mozambique
 Somalia
 Zimbabwe6
 Fiji 9
Mexico
1986
none none none  Bangladesh
 Brunei
 India
 Jordan
   Nepal
 North Yemen
 South Yemen
 United Arab Emirates
 Oman
 Lebanon
 Angola
 Benin7
none 10
Italy
1990
none none  Belize  Oman
 Pakistan
 Maldives
 Burkina Faso8
 Gabon
 Rwanda
none 4
United States
1994
 Faroe Islands
 Russia
 San Marino
none  Nicaragua
 Saint Lucia
 Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
 Myanmar
 Lebanon
 Sri Lanka
 Vietnam
 Yemen9
 Botswana
 Burundi
 São Tomé and Príncipe
 Namibia
 South Africa
 Swaziland
 Solomon Islands
 Tahiti
 Vanuatu
 Samoa
18
France
1998
 Armenia
 Azerbaijan
 Belarus
 Bosnia and Herzegovina
 Croatia
 Czech Republic10
 Georgia
 Germany9
 Liechtenstein
 Macedonia
 Moldova
 Slovakia10
 Slovenia
 Ukraine
 FR Yugoslavia11
none  Aruba
 Belize
 Cayman Islands
 Dominica
 Bahamas
 Saint Kitts and Nevis
 Cambodia
 Kazakhstan
 Kyrgyzstan
 Maldives
 Philippines
 Tajikistan
 Turkmenistan
 Uzbekistan
 DR Congo12
 Guinea-Bissau
 Rwanda
 Cook Islands
 Papua New Guinea
 Samoa
 Tonga
35
South KoreaJapan
2002
 Andorra none  Anguilla
 Bahamas
 British Virgin Islands
 Montserrat
 Turks and Caicos Islands
 U.S. Virgin Islands
 Guam
 Laos
 Mongolia
 Palestine
 Cape Verde
 Central African Republic
 Chad
 Djibouti
 Equatorial Guinea
 Eritrea
 Mali
 São Tomé and Príncipe
 Seychelles
 American Samoa 21
Germany
2006
 Serbia and Montenegro13 none none  Afghanistan none  New Caledonia14 3
South Africa
2010
 Montenegro10
 Serbia10
none none  Bhutan
 Myanmar
 Timor-Leste
 Comoros  Tuvalu15 7
Brazil
2014
none none  Curaçao none none none 1
Total 62 12 37 50 58 13 230
  • 1 Despite being the hosts, Italy had to qualify to the tournament.
  • 2 Only teams that played at least one match are considered for the purposes of first appearance. Teams that withdrew prior to the qualification, or that qualified to the World Cup automatically due to another team's withdrawal are not considered and written Italics.
  • 3 First appearance as Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia; previous appearance as Kingdom of Yugoslavia.
  • 4 First appearance as Israel; previous appearances as Eretz Yisrael.
  • 5 First appearance as Suriname; previous appearances as Dutch Guiana.
  • 6 First appearance as Zimbabwe; previous appearances as Rhodesia.
  • 7 First appearance as Benin; previous appearances as Dahomey.
  • 8 First appearance as Burkina Faso; previous appearances as Upper Volta.
  • 9 First appearance after the reunification.
  • 10 First appearance after the split.
  • 11 First appearance as Federal Republic of Yugoslavia; previous appearances as Kingdom of Yugoslavia and Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.
  • 12 First appearance as Democratic Republic of the Congo; previous appearances as Zaire.
  • 13 First appearance as Serbia and Montenegro; previous appearances as Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.
  • 14 Not a member of FIFA at the time of the qualification.
  • 15 Matches in the Football tournament of the South Pacific Games counted towards the qualification tournament for the OFC, and Tuvalu's results counted in determining advancement from this stage. However, Tuvalu was not a member of FIFA at the time of qualification and had not entered the FIFA World Cup.

National teams results in World Cup preliminary competition 1934–2010[edit]

  • Note that prior to qualification for the 1998 World Cup 2 points were awarded for a victory but all victories in the table below are awarded 3 points; a draw is awarded 1 point.
Key to colours in the table
Country has won the World Cup
Country has qualified for the main tournament
Team Pld W D L GF GA Pts Confederation Top scorers
 Mexico 141 92 28 21 376 104 304 CONCACAF J. Borgetti 23
C. Hermosillo 15
H. Sánchez 13
C. Blanco 12
J. Lozano 11
S. Reyes 11
J. Fonseca 10
 Costa Rica 140 68 34 38 243 153 238 CONCACAF P. Wanchope 21
R. Fonseca 11
 Czechoslovakia (1934–1990)
 Representation of Czechs and Slovaks (1994)
 Czech Republic (1998—)
118 67 23 28 236 97 224 UEFA M. Baroš 13
J. Koller 11
A. Kvašňák 10
T. Rosický 9
 Netherlands 105 67 22 16 241 76 223 UEFA R. van Nistelrooy 13
D. Bergkamp 12
Cruyff 10
 Yugoslavia (1934–1990)
 Yugoslavia (1998–2002)
 Serbia and Montenegro (2006)
 Serbia (2010—)
108 65 26 17 231 93 221 UEFA S. Milošević 17
P. Mijatović 16
D. Savićević 10
M. Kežman 10
 Spain 99 66 22 11 226 70 220 UEFA F. Hierro 10
D. Villa 8
J. Salinas 8
Raúl 8
 Soviet Union (1958–1990)
 Russia (1994—)
105 66 22 17 207 70 220 UEFA V. Beschastnykh 9
A. Arshavin 8
O. Protasov 8
 Sweden 107 67 17 23 219 94 218 UEFA H. Larsson 15
Z. Ibrahimović 11
M. Dahlin 10
 South Korea 103 62 30 11 199 65 216 AFC Ha Seok-Ju 10
 Portugal 117 59 30 28 206 124 207 UEFA Pauleta 19
Eusébio 12
L. Figo 9
 United States 122 59 30 33 203 151 207 CONCACAF L. Donovan 12
B. McBride 10
 Australia 105 60 26 19 286 83 206 AFC A. Thompson 18
D. Zdrilic 15
J. Aloisi 15
J. Kosmina 14
B. Emerton 11
T. Cahill 11
A. Vidmar 10
 England 92 62 19 11 226 60 205 UEFA M. Owen 10
F. Lampard 9
W. Rooney 9
 Italy 87 61 19 7 181 51 202 UEFA G. Riva 14
R. Bettega 11
F. Inzaghi 7
S. Mazzola 7
 Belgium 113 60 22 31 216 131 202 UEFA M. Wilmots 14
E. Mpenza 8
W. Sonck 8
 Argentina 102 59 24 19 181 96 201 CONMEBOL H. Crespo 19

G. Batistuta 11

 Honduras 116 57 28 31 210 130 199 CONCACAF C. Pavón 25
J. Figueroa 13
D. Suazo 11
A. Guevara 10
M. Núñez 10
 Romania 106 58 20 28 190 108 194 UEFA G. Hagi 15
G. Popescu 10
F. Răducioiu 9
 Brazil 92 56 25 11 199 59 193 CONMEBOL Romário 11
Zico 11
Kaká 10
L. Fabiano 10
Ronaldo 10
Tostão 10
 Iran 94 56 24 14 201 69 192 AFC A. Daei 35
K. Bagheri 28
 Paraguay 120 56 24 40 165 133 192 CONMEBOL J. Cardozo 14
R. Santa Cruz 10
C. Paredes 8
S. Cabañas 7
J. Chilavert 7
 Uruguay 118 52 33 33 156 119 189 CONMEBOL D. Forlán 13
D. Silva 8
S. Abreu 8
 Scotland 105 54 23 28 167 112 185 UEFA K. Gallacher 9
 Germany (1934–1938)
 West Germany (1950–1990)
 Germany (1994—)
74 55 17 2 213 56 182 UEFA K. Rummenigge 13
M. Ballack 10
G. Müller 9
M. Klose 9
 El Salvador 118 53 23 42 193 136 182 CONCACAF R. Diaz Arce 18
J. González 12
L. Ramírez 11
 Saudi Arabia 92 53 22 17 173 72 181 AFC S. Al Jaber 16
T. Al-Meshal 14
O. Al-Dosari 13
K. Al-Muwallid 11
 Bulgaria 109 53 22 34 181 149 181 UEFA D. Berbatov 17
H. Bonev 12
E. Kostadinov 10
 Irish Free State (1934–1938)
 Republic of Ireland (1950—)
119 47 36 36 170 141 177 UEFA Rob. Keane 12
T. Cascarino 9
 France 91 52 19 20 180 74 175 UEFA M. Platini 12
E. Cantona 7
T. Cisowski 7
 Austria 103 50 23 30 178 114 173 UEFA T. Polster 15
A. Herzog 14
H. Krankl 10
 China PR 82 53 11 18 172 54 170 AFC Hao Haidong 13
 Morocco 98 46 32 20 131 71 170 CAF A. Faras 6
Y. Hadji 6
 Hungary 102 49 23 30 181 129 170 UEFA F. Bene 10
  Switzerland 110 47 29 34 164 133 170 UEFA A. Frei 17
K. Türkyilmaz 17
S. Chapuisat 10
 Nigeria 88 48 24 16 151 70 168 CAF O. Martins 10
R. Yekini 10
 Tunisia 88 47 23 18 151 68 164 CAF Z. Beiya 9
 Denmark 100 47 23 30 170 120 164 UEFA J. Tomasson 10
P. Elkjær 10
S. Larsen 10
 Poland 97 49 16 32 182 117 163 UEFA W. Lubański 14
 Trinidad and Tobago 115 46 25 44 169 151 163 CONCACAF S. John 20
S. David 17
A. Eve 12
 Japan 88 47 20 21 173 70 161 AFC K. Miura 27
T. Takagi 14
 Colombia 118 41 37 40 132 127 160 CONMEBOL F. Asprilla 9
 Chile 111 43 26 42 152 137 155 CONMEBOL M. Salas 18
I. Zamorano 17
H. Suazo 10
 Cameroon 71 44 15 12 122 53 147 CAF S. Eto'o 16
P. Mboma 10
R. Milla 9
 Greece 104 40 22 42 125 155 142 UEFA T. Gekas 10
A. Charisteas 9
M. Papaioannou 9
 Egypt (1) 78 41 18 19 136 71 141 CAF A. Zaki 10
H. Hassan 10
 Northern Ireland 112 36 30 46 123 137 138 UEFA D. Healy 8
 Canada 95 36 29 30 122 116 137 CONCACAF A. Bunbury 12
 Norway 106 37 26 43 143 149 137 UEFA J. Carew 8
K. Rekdal 8
 Zambia 84 40 16 28 128 78 136 CAF Kalusha Bwalya 9
 Kuwait 77 41 11 25 135 72 134 AFC J. Al Huwaidi 13
A. Al Anbari 12
F. Al Dakhil 12
B. Abdulaziz 10
 Turkey 108 38 20 50 146 165 134 UEFA H. Şükür 16
 Guatemala 100 35 28 37 145 127 133 CONCACAF C. Ruiz 24
J. Plata 10
 Ecuador 109 34 27 48 123 157 129 CONMEBOL A. Delgado 16
É. Méndez 10
 Palestine, British Mandate (1934–1938)
 Israel (1950—)
102 33 29 40 137 149 128 UEFA E. Ohana 8
 Qatar 78 36 16 26 125 82 124 AFC M. Al Enazi 15
M. Souf 12
 New Zealand 70 36 13 21 169 75 121 OFC V. Coveny 19
S. Sumner 14
G. Turner 11
 Iraq 69 35 16 18 157 73 121 AFC A. Radhi 15
E. Mohammed 10
L. Hussain Shaaib 10
 Peru 113 31 28 54 118 159 121 CONMEBOL J.Farfan 12
 Bolivia 116 33 21 62 144 216 120 CONMEBOL J. Botero 16
 Ivory Coast 63 33 20 10 115 55 119 CAF D. Drogba 15
I. Bakayoko 11
 Algeria 73 32 21 20 95 72 117 CAF R. Madjer 9
 Jamaica 80 32 20 28 95 100 116 CONCACAF M. King 8
D. Burton 8
 Ghana 67 32 17 18 98 55 113 CAF M. Amoah 8
 North Korea 69 32 17 20 99 65 113 AFC Hong Yong Jo 8
 Haiti 76 32 15 29 123 109 111 CONCACAF E. Sanon 19
G. Pierre 15
 Wales 100 30 20 50 129 144 110 UEFA I. Rush 11
D. Saunders 10
 United Arab Emirates 71 31 16 24 112 78 109 AFC A. Al Talyani 15
YS. Ali 10
 Guinea 64 31 10 23 100 78 103 CAF P. Feindouno 12
 Finland 111 28 17 66 120 265 101 UEFA M. Forssell 10
 Bahrain 74 26 22 26 82 77 100 AFC A. Hubail 8
 Zaire (1974–1994)
 DR Congo (1998—)
61 28 13 20 101 72 97 CAF S. Nonda 10
 Syria (1) 62 27 15 20 137 69 96 AFC B. Al Said 17
 Uzbekistan 58 27 13 18 123 72 94 AFC M. Shatskikh 14
M. Kasimov 13
J. Irismetov 11
 Angola 53 23 18 12 71 48 87 CAF Akwa 14
 Ukraine 48 23 17 8 65 36 86 UEFA A. Shevchenko 26
 Croatia 38 23 12 3 75 33 81 UEFA B. Balaban 7
 Slovakia 44 23 10 11 82 47 79 UEFA S. Németh 8
(P. Dubovský scored 6 goals for RCS and 3 goals for Slovakia, thus 9 goals in total)
 Cuba 60 20 17 23 83 91 77 CONCACAF L. More 11
 Rhodesia (1970)
 Zimbabwe (1974—)
57 21 14 22 59 71 77 CAF P. Ndlovu 11
 East Germany 47 22 8 17 87 65 74 Defunct J. Streich 14
 South Africa 36 22 5 9 43 29 71 CAF S. Bartlett 7
 Oman 46 19 12 15 89 47 69 AFC H. Al Dhabit 11
 Senegal 47 18 15 14 64 43 69 CAF EH. Diouf 14
 Togo 53 19 12 22 62 70 69 CAF E. Adebayor 16
 Dutch East Indies (1938)
 Indonesia (1950—)
63 18 15 30 79 113 69 AFC I. Jaya 5
 Hong Kong 63 19 12 32 78 115 69 AFC Lau Wing Yip 10
 Venezuela 106 18 14 74 87 259 68 CONMEBOL R. Moran 10
J. Arango 9
G. Maldonado 9
 Kenya 56 18 12 26 60 82 66 CAF D. Oliech 12
 Thailand 65 18 12 35 89 116 66 AFC K. Senamuang 15
PO. Piyapong 10
 Fiji 43 19 7 17 103 82 64 OFC O. Vakatalesau 12
E. Masinisau 11
 Suriname (1938–1974)
 Suriname (1978—)
57 17 13 27 85 96 64 CONCACAF R. George 6
 Iceland 84 16 15 53 83 191 63 UEFA E. Guðjohnsen 11
 Upper Volta (1978)
 Burkina Faso (1990—)
45 18 7 20 66 66 61 CAF M. Dagano 18
 Slovenia 42 16 12 14 55 50 60 UEFA M. Ačimovič 6
Z. Zahovič 6
 Sudan 56 15 15 26 53 84 60 CAF H. Kamal 7
 Gabon 43 17 7 19 49 51 58 CAF G. Nzamba 5
T. Zue 5
 Libya 43 16 9 18 50 49 57 CAF A. Masli 5
A. Osman 5
 Latvia 55 15 12 28 65 92 57 UEFA M. Verpakovskis 8
 Malaysia 47 14 12 21 58 71 54 AFC D. Salleh 7
 Jordan 42 15 8 19 54 54 53 AFC H. Abdel-Fattah 11
 Congo (2) 46 15 8 23 46 63 53 CAF A. Mamouna-Ossila 4
 Singapore 52 15 8 29 57 88 53 AFC N. Shah 4
D. Tokijan 4
S. Moorthy 4
A. Duric 4
F. Ahmad 4
 Bosnia and Herzegovina 38 15 7 16 58 50 52 UEFA E. Džeko 9
E. Bolić 9
 Solomon Islands 33 15 6 12 91 68 51 OFC C. Menapi 16
 Lithuania 53 13 11 29 43 80 50 UEFA E. Jankauskas 6
 Malawi 51 12 13 26 52 77 49 CAF C. Msowoya 6
 Liberia 49 13 10 26 34 73 49 CAF G. Weah 6
 Panama 58 13 10 35 57 124 49 CONCACAF J. Dely Valdés 11
 Curaçao (1958)
 Netherlands Antilles (1962–2010)
 Curaçao (2014—)
48 10 14 24 33 95 44 CONCACAF R. Rovina 3
E. Loran 3
 Albania 84 11 11 62 53 164 44 UEFA E. Bogdani 7
 Cyprus 94 11 10 73 74 266 43 UEFA M. Konstantinou 14
 Lebanon 32 11 9 12 58 43 42 AFC R. Antar 9
 Turkmenistan 30 13 3 14 50 43 42 AFC B. Kuliev 6
 Belarus 40 11 9 20 48 60 42 UEFA R. Vasilyuk 5
T. Kalachev 5
 Estonia 56 11 8 37 46 127 41 UEFA A. Oper 11
 Saint Vincent and the Grenadines 42 12 4 26 58 116 40 CONCACAF R. Jack 10
 North Yemen (1986–1990)
 Yemen (1994—)
38 10 9 19 47 60 39 AFC A. Al Nono 7
 Kazakhstan 40 11 6 23 59 81 39 UEFA R. Baltiyev 6
 Mali 26 11 5 10 39 34 38 CAF F. Kanouté 10
 Bermuda 26 10 7 9 60 38 37 CONCACAF J. Nusum 11
S. Goater 10
 Madagascar 31 10 7 14 36 41 37 CAF H. Randrianaivo 5
 Macedonia 40 9 9 22 49 71 36 UEFA G. Pandev 6
 Dahomey (1974)
 Benin (1986—)
36 10 5 21 36 77 35 CAF R. Omotoyossi 8
 Tajikistan 20 10 4 6 47 17 34 AFC S. Hamidov 5
N. Hakimov 5
 Vanuatu 31 10 3 18 65 72 33 OFC S. Soromon 9
E. Mermer 9
 Georgia 38 8 9 21 40 65 33 UEFA A. Iashvili 7
 India 31 8 9 14 34 64 33 AFC J. Ancheri 4
 New Caledonia 16 9 4 3 38 15 31 OFC M. Hmae 11
 Uganda 28 9 4 15 29 49 31 CAF D. Obua 5
 Sierra Leone 37 8 7 22 27 57 31 CAF C. Mansaray 2
K. Conteh 2
S. Mansaray 2
A. Kanu 2
M. Kallon 2
K. Dumbuya 2
W. Sounmonu 2
I. Dyfan 2
 Tahiti 25 8 6 11 30 57 30 OFC F. Tagawa 4
N. Bennett 4
 Barbados 27 8 4 15 27 55 28 CONCACAF J. Alexander 6
L. Riley 6
 Saint Kitts and Nevis 20 8 3 9 43 36 27 CONCACAF K. Gumbs 7
I. Lake 7
 Kyrgyzstan 21 8 2 11 28 34 26 AFC S. Kutsov 3
S. Chikishev 3
 Ethiopia 31 6 8 17 34 54 26 CAF T. Ingdawerk 3
 Cape Verde 20 7 3 10 19 26 24 CAF A. Gomes 5
C. Morais 5
 Rwanda 27 6 6 15 23 38 24 CAF A. Said 6
 Armenia 42 4 12 26 30 83 24 UEFA A. Petrosyan 4
 Bangladesh 36 7 3 26 26 86 24 AFC M. Hossain Joarder 3
M. Alfaz 3
 Tanzania 25 4 10 11 24 31 22 CAF J. Tegete 3
T. Ali 3
P. Tino 3
 Antigua and Barbuda 26 6 4 16 28 69 22 CONCACAF D. Edwards 8
 Dominican Republic 19 6 3 10 23 37 21 CONCACAF O. Zapata 4
D. Rodríguez 4
 Niger 20 6 3 11 15 33 21 CAF I. Alhassane 2
M. Yahaya 2
M. Kamfideni 2
 Namibia 31 5 6 20 24 75 21 CAF R. Tjikuzu 4
 Mozambique 24 5 5 14 22 38 20 CAF Dario 5
 Gambia 16 5 4 7 14 22 19 CAF N. Demba 2
M. Jarjue 2
 Botswana 24 5 4 15 18 38 19 CAF D. Selolwane 8
 Tonga 16 6 0 10 18 70 18 OFC L. Taufahema 4
 Faroe Islands 50 5 3 42 26 139 18 UEFA U. Arge 4
 Grenada 15 5 2 8 39 33 17 CONCACAF R. Charles 8
 Burundi 14 5 2 7 10 17 17 CAF C. Nahimana 2
H. Mbazumutima 2
 Vietnam(3) 28 5 2 21 20 63 17 AFC H. S. Nguyen 6
 Maldives 22 5 2 15 28 95 17 AFC A. Ashfaq 7
 Azerbaijan 38 3 7 28 12 74 16 UEFA V. Vasilyev 2
V. Javadov 2
E. Mammadov 2
 Chinese Taipei 48 4 4 40 24 176 16 AFC Jui Te Chen 3
Duh Deng Chyan 3
Wei Yi Huang 3
 Saint Lucia 14 5 0 9 18 28 15 CONCACAF E. Jean 5
 Western Samoa (1994–1998)
 Samoa (2002—)
14 5 0 9 25 39 15 OFC J. Michael 5
 Papua New Guinea 10 4 2 4 22 19 14 OFC R. Davani 6
 Palestine 14 4 2 8 19 27 14 AFC E. Abou El Kair 4
 Sri Lanka (4) 27 3 5 19 19 67 14 AFC K. Jayasuriya 4
 Moldova 38 2 8 28 19 75 14 UEFA S. Rogaciov 3
S. Clescenco 3
 Luxembourg 114 3 4 107 54 381 13 UEFA A. Schmit 4
R. Langers 4
 Malta 82 1 9 72 25 247 12 UEFA C. Busuttil 5
 Guyana 20 3 2 15 16 45 11 CONCACAF C. Watson 4
 Chad 10 3 1 6 10 15 10 CAF F. Oumar 3
 Liechtenstein 40 2 4 34 18 121 10 UEFA M. Frick 5
 Macau 31 3 1 27 13 148 10 AFC Kin Seng Chan 2
A. Carvalhal 2
D. Pinto 2
 Montenegro 10 1 6 3 9 14 9 UEFA M. Vučinić 3
 Dominica 12 2 3 7 12 35 9 CONCACAF V. Casimir 3
 Swaziland 13 2 3 8 5 28 9 CAF S. Dlamini 3
 Bahamas 10 2 3 5 10 35 9 CONCACAF K. Davies 2
A. Haven 2
 Puerto Rico 17 2 3 12 13 49 9 CONCACAF R. Ortiz 2
P. Villegas 2
M. Lugris 2
   Nepal 24 2 2 20 15 87 8 AFC N. Ramayajhi 7
 Equatorial Guinea 10 2 0 8 7 17 6 CAF R. Eyoma 1
C. Mba 1
SJ. Barila 1
R. Bodipo 1
JE. Dyowe 1
J. Edjogo 1
F. Carolino 1
 Guinea-Bissau 8 1 2 5 5 13 5 CAF P. Tavares 2
 Mauritania 14 1 2 11 7 33 5 CAF A. Teguedi 2
 Belize 12 1 2 9 8 35 5 CONCACAF D. McCauley 2
 Mauritius 16 1 2 13 12 44 5 CAF D. Imbert 2
W. Marquette 2
 Laos 14 1 2 11 6 76 5 AFC S. Thongphachan 1
V. Dalaphone 1
V. Phaphouvanin 1
P. Phounsamay 1
N. Khouphachansy 1
P. Chanthalome 1
 Andorra 32 1 2 29 12 109 5 UEFA I. Lima 3
 Saar 4 1 1 2 4 8 4 Defunct H. Binkert 1
G. Siedl 1
H. Martin 1
W. Otto 1
 Aruba 10 1 1 8 12 31 4 CONCACAF W. Gross 3
 Djibouti 9 1 1 7 5 40 4 CAF M. Hirir 1
H. Robleh 1
M. Khaireh 1
AH. Daher 1
H. Yussin 1
 South Vietnam (3) 3 1 0 2 1 5 3 Defunct own goal by S. Meelarkpit (THA)
 São Tomé and Príncipe 4 1 0 3 2 13 3 CAF C. Pontes 1
A. Ramos 1
 Turks and Caicos Islands 6 1 0 5 2 24 3 CONCACAF G. Glinton 1
D. Lowery 1
 Lesotho 14 0 3 11 6 33 3 CAF T. Masia 1
T. Ramoseli 1
M. Ramafole 1
S. Leboela 1
S. Muso 1
L. Seema 1
 Cook Islands 14 1 0 13 8 55 3 OFC T. Mateariki 2
 Eritrea 4 0 2 2 0 7 2 CAF zero goalscorer
 Somalia 10 5 2 3 1 15 2 CAF Y.Ali 8
 Cayman Islands 8 0 2 6 3 19 2 CONCACAF M. Forbes 1
A. Grant 1
T. Elliot 1
 Seychelles 10 0 2 8 6 26 2 CAF P. Zialor 3
 British Virgin Islands 6 0 2 4 4 27 2 CONCACAF A. Williams 2
 Cambodia 14 0 2 12 5 54 2 AFC C. Makara 2
H. Sochetra 2
 Pakistan 26 0 2 24 11 112 2 AFC G. Zaman 3
 San Marino 46 0 2 44 8 205 2 UEFA A. Selva 5
 South Yemen 2 0 1 1 4 7 1 Defunct Abubakar Al-Mass 1
 Tuvalu 4 0 1 3 2 22 1 OFC V. Sekifu 1
 Anguilla 6 0 1 5 2 27 1 CONCACAF K. Hughes 7
R. O Connor 1
 Nicaragua 12 0 1 11 5 32 1 CONCACAF E. Palacios 2
 Philippines 9 0 1 8 2 39 1 AFC J. Dona 1
Y. Barsales 1
 Mongolia 10 0 1 9 4 44 1 AFC L. Donorov 1
O. Selenge 1
B. Davaa 1
B. Buman-Uchral 1
 Central African Republic 2 0 0 2 1 4 0 CAF L. Djim 1
 Comoros 2 0 0 2 2 10 0 CAF I. Bakar 1
D. Midtadi 1
 Timor-Leste 2 0 0 2 3 11 0 AFC E. Da Silva 3
 Myanmar (5) 2 0 0 2 0 11 0 AFC zero goalscorer
 Afghanistan 4 0 0 4 1 18 0 AFC O. Karimi 1
 Montserrat 5 0 0 5 2 33 0 CONCACAF V. Farrell 1
W. Dyer 1
 U.S. Virgin Islands 5 0 0 5 1 35 0 CONCACAF J. Santos 1
 Guam 2 0 0 2 0 35 0 AFC zero goalscorer
 Brunei 12 0 0 12 2 57 0 AFC K. Zainudin 1
A. Rahim 1
 American Samoa 12 0 0 12 2 129 0 OFC N. Natia 1
R. Ott 1
 Bhutan 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 AFC zero goalscorer

Last updated: 16 July 2010.

1Egypt and Syria formed a joint association in 1960 and entered the preliminary competition for World Cup 1962 as a joint team, called United Arab Republic, though they withdrew before playing any game. Later, Egypt entered the preliminary rounds for World Cup 1966 under the name of United Arab Republic, but withdrew yet again before playing.
2Congo entered the preliminary competition for World Cup 1966 as French Congo, but their entry was not accepted by FIFA.
3The federation ruling Vietnam national football team now seems to have been established in North Vietnam (that never entered the World Cup), so it seems to make more sense not to merge the results of Vietnam and South Vietnam.
4Sri Lanka entered the preliminary competition for World Cup 1974 as Ceylon, but withdrew before playing any game.
5Myanmar entered the preliminary competition for World Cup 1950 as Burma, but withdrew before playing any game.

Top scorers in preliminary competition 1934–2010[edit]

Rank Nation Player Goals Games Goal ratio Qualification tournaments
1 Iran Ali Daei 35 51 0.69 1994 (7 goals), 1998 (9), 2002 (10), 2006 (9)
2 Guatemala Carlos Ruiz 30 37 0.81 2002 (8 goals), 2006 (10), 2010 (6), 2014 (6)
3 Iran Karim Bagheri 28 29 0.97 1998 (19 goals), 2002 (8), 2010 (1)
4 Japan Kazu Miura 27 25 1.08 1994 (13 goals), 1998 (14)
5 Ukraine Andriy Shevchenko 26 40 0.65 1998 (4 goals), 2002 (10), 2006 (6), 2010 (6)
6 Honduras Carlos Pavón 25 37 0.68 1998 (2 goals), 2002 (15), 2006 (1), 2010 (7)
7 Mexico Jared Borgetti 23 24 0.96 2002 (6 goals), 2006 (14), 2010 (3)
8 Costa Rica Paulo Wanchope 21 37 0.57 1998 (6 goals), 2002 (7), 2006 (8)
9 Trinidad and Tobago Stern John 20 45 0.44 1998 (3 goals), 2002 (3), 2006 (12), 2010 (2)
10 New Zealand Vaughan Coveny 19 19 1.00 1998 (4 goals), 2002 (9), 2006 (6)
11 Portugal Pauleta 19 24 0.79 2002 (8 goals), 2006 (11)
12 Argentina Hernán Crespo 19 33 0.58 1998 (3 goals), 2002 (9), 2006 (7)

Current format[edit]

Currently, 32 places are available in the final tournament. One of them is reserved for the host nation, but if two or more nations host the competition jointly, each is awarded a place. The 2006 Finals were the first in which an automatic entry was not guaranteed to the previous champion; 2002 winner Brazil qualified for 2006 at the top of their qualifiers group. The decision to remove the reigning champions' automatic spot, announced in November 2001, was said by FIFA to address the issue of the returning champions being at a disadvantage to their fellow competitors due to having not played a competitive match in the previous two years.[3] The problem was amply demonstrated at the 2002 FIFA World Cup as returning champions France tumbled out in the first round, finishing bottom of their group having failed to score a single goal. However, Italy, defending champions from 2006, finished bottom of their group in 2010, despite playing in the qualifying matches.

FIFA decides beforehand the number of spots awarded to each of the continental zones. For the 2014 World Cup, the following numbers are being used:[4]

  • UEFA (Europe) – 13 berths
  • CAF (Africa) – 5 berths
  • AFC (Asia) – 4 berths
  • CONMEBOL (South America) – 4 berths, plus the host Brazil
  • CONCACAF (North and Central America and Caribbean) – 3 berths
  • 2 berths for the winners of play-offs between the best team from the OFC (Oceania), as well as additional teams from the AFC, CONMEBOL and CONCACAF. The pairings for these play-offs will be determined by an open draw.

The amount of Berths allocated per continent is widely debated, the question many pose is why should Europe get 13 teams while other continents get 5 or less? Africa has called for more places,[5] but it could take many years before this system becomes more equitable.

These numbers vary slightly between tournaments (see above).

Qualification in all zones ends at approximately the same time, in September–November of the year preceding the finals.

The formats of the qualification tournaments differ between confederations and over time. The systems being used in 2014 are outlined below.

Africa[edit]

The CAF qualification process began with a preliminary round (to narrow the field of 52 entrants to 40 teams) in November 2011. Mauritania was the only team not to enter the qualifying draw.

The group stage consisted of 10 groups of 4, with the group winners advancing. The final stage will pair the 10 remaining teams in 5 knock-out ties, with the winners advancing to the World Cup finals.

Asia[edit]

Bhutan and Guam did not enter the AFC qualification process, while Brunei were suspended and therefore ineligible.

Qualifying has only been altered slightly from the 2010 method, with changes to the structure of the preliminary rounds – which were held before the main draw. As with the 2010 qualifying, two knock-out preliminary rounds reduced the 43 entrants to 20, followed by a first group stage with the top two sides from 5 groups of 4 advancing to a final group stage. The winners and runners-up of the two final groups of 5 advanced to the World Cup finals with the two third-placed sides, Jordan and Uzbekistan, playing off for the right to play in an inter-confederation play-off for a final World Cup spot.

Europe[edit]

The European qualification is unchanged from the 2010 system. The 53 national teams were divided into nine groups, with the group winners qualifying directly to the finals, and the best eight runners-up playing home-and-away ties for the remaining four places.[6]

North and Central America and Caribbean[edit]

The CONCACAF qualification process has changed significantly from the 2010 qualification cycle. A single preliminary round involved the 10 lowest ranked teams, reducing the 35 entrants to 30. The six highest ranked sides received byes in the first group stage, while the remaining 24 teams played in six groups of four, with the winners advancing to a second group stage. As in 2006 and 2010, the remaining 12 teams are playing in 3 semifinal groups of 4 teams with the top two in each group advancing to a final 6-team group.

The final round – often referred to as "the hexagonal" because of the number of teams involved – will see the top three teams advance to the World Cup finals, while the fourth placed side will enter an inter-confederation play-off for a final World Cup spot.

Oceania[edit]

Qualification in Oceania was held as part of two further competitions. The first stage took place at the 2011 Pacific Games, with the top 3 eligible teams advancing to a final round group stage with New Zealand. The winner of the final group stage (which also acted as the 2012 OFC Nations Cup) will enter an inter-confederation play-off for a World Cup spot.

South America[edit]

As in recent qualification series CONMEBOL qualification consists of a single group of all entrants not automatically qualified for the finals. Brazil, as hosts of the 2014 finals, qualified automatically and are not competing in qualifying.

The top 4 teams from the 9 teams group will advance to the World Cup finals, while the fifth placed team will enter an inter-confederation play-off for a World Cup spot.

Intercontinental play-offs[edit]

Unlike previous tournaments, the pairings for the two play-offs were determined by an open draw on 30 July 2011, a day prior to the main draw. Intercontinental play-offs are played as home-and-away ties.

Qualification tournament rules[edit]

Qualification tournaments generally consist of a number of stages, made up of groups or knock-out ties.

Groups[edit]

In all group tournaments, three points are awarded for a win, one for a draw, and none for a loss. FIFA has set the order of the tie-breakers for teams that finish level on points:

  1. goal difference in all group matches
  2. greater number of goals scored in all group matches

Where teams are still not able to be separated, the following tie-breakers are used:

  1. greater number of points obtained in matches between the tied teams
  2. goal difference in matches between the tied teams
  3. greater number of goals scored in matches between the tied teams

Where teams are still equal, then a play-off on neutral ground, with extra time and penalties if necessary will be played if FIFA deems such a play-off able to be fitted within the coordinated international match calendar. If this is not deemed feasible, then the result will be determined by the drawing of lot.

Note that this order of tie-breaker application has not always been applied. While it was used in the 2010 qualifiers, the qualification for the 2006 World Cup used the head-to-head comparison prior to goal difference (although this system was – where applicable – used in the 2006 finals themselves). If these rules had applied in 2006, then Nigeria would have qualified rather than Angola.

Home-and-away ties[edit]

Most knock-out qualifiers (such as the inter-confederation play-offs, the second round of UEFA qualifying and many preliminary ties) are played over two legs. The team that scores a greater aggregate number of goals qualifies. Away goals rule applies. If these rules fail to determine the winner, extra time and penalty shootouts are used.

Occasionally – usually when one entrant lacks adequate facilities to host international matches – ties are played over a single leg, in which case matches level after 90 minutes will go to extra time and then to a penalty shootout if required.

Alternatively, "home" matches can be played in neutral countries, or occasionally one team will host both matches. In the latter case the visiting team will still be considered as the "home" team for one of the legs – which may determine which side advances under the away goals rule, as occurred in CONCACAF qualification in 2010.

Notes[edit]

  • Mexico holds several records in World Cup qualifying matches: most games played (141, followed by Costa Rica, 140), most games won (92, followed by Costa Rica, 68), most goals scored (376, followed by Australia, 286), best goal difference (+272, followed by Australia, +203) and best tally of points under the classic 3–1–0 point system (304pts, followed by Costa Rica 238pts).
  • Germany (incl. results of West Germany from 1950 to 1990) have the best point-per-game average with 2.46 PPG (followed by Italy, 2.32 PPG) and the highest amount of goals scored per game with 2.9 GPG (followed by Solomon Islands, 2.8 GPG).
  • Germany (incl. results of West Germany from 1950 to 1990) and Brazil are the only teams to have never been eliminated in a World Cup Qualification. Brazil played in all final tournaments, however Germany didn't enter the 1930 (no qualification tournament) and did not compete in the 1950 competition (due to being banned).
  • No federation has been able to remain undefeated in preliminary competition. South Yemen was only defeated once but played only 2 World Cup qualifying matches. As South Yemen football team does not exist anymore, they cannot lose any other game in the future, and no other existing federation that took part in the World Cup qualifying process has lost less than 2 games, which means this record is likely to stand for a long time. Germany (incl. West Germany) lost only 2 games in 74 matches. Saarland and Eritrea lost 2 out of 4 games, whereas Central African Republic, Comoros, and Guam lost 2 out of 2 games. Germany lost their first game in 1985 (vs Portugal in Stuttgart) and their second game in 2001 (vs England in Munich), which means these two games were lost at home. Brazil lost their first World Cup qualifying match ever in 1993 (vs Bolivia in La Paz).
  • Korea Republic, Italy and Brazil have the lowest ratio of goals allowed per game, with 0.6 GAPG.
  • Zambia hold the record for the most qualification wins (40) without ever qualifying for the finals (followed by Qatar, 36).
  • Luxembourg hold the records for most games lost (107, followed by Venezuela, 74), most goals allowed (381, followed by Cyprus) and worst goal difference (−327, followed by Malta, −222).
  • Guam hold the record for most goals allowed per game (17.5 GAPG, followed by American Samoa, 10.8 GAPG).
  • Eritrea (4 games played), and Guam (2 games played) are the only federations that never scored a goal in a World Cup preliminary competition. Eritrea completed 2 draw games, though.
  • San Marino hold the record for the most games played (46) without ever winning (followed by Pakistan, 26).
  • The following nations have lost all of their World Cup qualifying matches: Brunei, American Samoa (12 games played), Montserrat (7 games played), Timor-Leste (4 games played), Central African Republic, Comoros, and Guam (2 games played).
  • Colombia holds the record for most drawn games (37) in World Cup preliminary competition (followed by Republic of Ireland, 36).
  • Several teams managed to go through their preliminary competition series winning all their matches. The most impressive series are those of Spain for 2010 (10 games played), West Germany for 1982 and Netherlands for 2010 (8 games played) and Brazil for 1970 (6 games played). West Germany reached the final in 1982, Brazil became champions in 1970 and Spain became champions in 2010. Burundi won 2 games out of 2 for 1998 but withdrew due to civil war on the following round.
  • Brazil was the champion of the 1970 World Cup winning all its matches in qualification (6 games), the group stage (3 games), and the knockout stage (3 games). It remains the only time to go undefeated through an entire World Cup cycle.
  • Honduras and Trinidad and Tobago played the longest World Cup preliminary competition campaigns on the way to the World Cup 2002, having played 22 games. Though, both of them did not qualify, ending respectively 4th and 6th of the CONCACAF Final Round, whereas only the 3 top teams of this round were qualified for the World Cup.
  • Bhutan entered the 2010 World Cup qualifying process but withdrew before playing a single game, being the only federation to have entered preliminary competition and not to have played a single game.
  • Italy hold the record for most qualification berths earned through playing World Cup qualifying matches (13 times), followed by Germany and Spain (12). Brazil and Germany are the only teams that have never been eliminated in preliminary competitions: Brazil have taken part in every staging of the World Cup final competition so far, whereas Germany did not enter in 1930 and was not admitted to the competition in 1950. Only once was Brazil deprived of finishing as leaders of their qualifying group, when they ended 3rd behind Argentina and Ecuador in the South American qualification group for 2002.
  • Luxembourg holds the record for most unsuccessful attempts (18) to qualify for the World Cup final competition, having been eliminated from each preliminary competition campaign. Finland were eliminated 17 times: they have also never qualified, but did not enter the preliminary competition in 1934.
  • India qualified by default for the 1950 FIFA World Cup finals as a result of the withdrawal of all of their scheduled opponents. But the governing body AIFF decided against going to the World Cup, being unable to understand the importance of the event at that time. The reasoning given by the AIFF was that there was the cost of travel, although FIFA agreed to bear a major part of the travel expenses,[7] lack of practice time, team selection issues and valuing Olympics over the World Cup.[8]
  • Iranian player Ali Daei is considered to be the World Cup preliminary competition top scorer with a tally of 30 goals scored.
  • The largest margin of victory in World Cup preliminary competition was set when Australia defeated American Samoa 31–0 in Sydney on 11 April 2001. With 13 goals scored on this occasion, Archie Thompson set the highest amount of goals scored by a single player in a single World Cup preliminary competition game. This score helped Australia to achieve a new record, the highest amount of goals scored by a single squad during a single qualifying campaign (73 goals scored, in 8 games). However, Australia failed to qualify as they were eliminated in the intercontinental playoffs against Uruguay.
  • Maldives hold the record for most goals allowed (59 goals allowed in 6 games) by a single squad in a single preliminary campaign, during preliminary competition of World Cup 1998. They suffered 0–17 and 9–0 losses against Iran, as well as 12–0 and 0–12 losses against Syria and 3–0 and 0–6 losses against Kyrgyzstan. Moreover, they failed to score a single goal against their opponents.
  • Davide Gualtieri from San Marino scored the fastest ever World Cup preliminary competition goal (9 seconds into the game) against England on 17 November 1993, in Bologna (Italy).
  • As of 2010, a total of 5,635 World Cup qualifying matches have been played (of which 1,190 were drawn) and a total of 16,471 goals have been scored (2.92 goals per game).
  • Due to territorial and political changes over the years, it is difficult to estimate the number of federations that played at least one game in a World Cup preliminary competition. Arguably 212 federations have competed in the World Cup preliminary competition.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]


Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FIFA_World_Cup_qualification — Please support Wikipedia.
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