With qualification of Peru last Wednesday after beating New Zealand in the last day qualifier making the South American country the 31st to join Russia the host country as the 32, the stage is now set for the 2018 World Cup holding in the European country.
The 32 qualified countries are England, Germany, Russia (host country), Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Croatia, Denmark, Egypt, France, Iceland, Iran, Japan, Mexico, Morocco, Nigeria, Panama, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Serbia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Tunisia, Uruguay.
The 32 countries will be flying the flag of six continents namely, Europe, South America, Asia, North, Central America and Caribbean, Africa and Oceania..
Leading the pack with a total of 14, the highest slot is Europe for the 2018 Mundial is Europe. And the countries that will be representing that continent are Belgium, England, Germany, Iceland, Poland, Russia, Serbia, Spain, France, Portugal, Switzerland, Croatia, Sweden and Denmark. Egypt, Nigeria, Senegal, Morocco and Tunisia with five slots will represent Africa. Asia has Iran, Japan, Saudi Arabia, South Korea and Australia while North, Central America and Caribbean will parade Costa Rica, Mexico and Panama.
For South America, its four qualifiers are Brazil, Uruguay, Argentina and Colombia.
The 2018 World cup qualification, which began on March 12, 2015 and ran till November 16, involved a total of 210 teams from six FIFA confederations that played a total of 872 matches that produced 2,454 goals with Robert Lewandowski, the Polish born Bayern Munich striker, Mohammad Al-Sahlawi and Ahmed Khali emerging the highest goal scorers with 16 goals each.
This is the second appearance of Serbia, which succeeds Yugoslavia and Serbia and Montenegro.
Iceland a tiny Island nation with less than a million population is going to the world cup for the first time.
Some major football nations will not be in the World Cup. Prominent among them is Italy. Netherland is another nation that will not be there in Russia when the competition begins in Russia in June next year. For Guguben Buffon, the legendary Italian goalkeeper who had planned to retire after the world cup, it is sad memory. The Italian keeper had been at four previous World Cup competition. Argen Robbens of Netherland will also be missed at the football fiesta.
The USA that last missed the World Cup in 1986 will also not be there so is Chile. In Africa, Cameroun and Ghana that hold a good credential in the competition as the few African countries apart from Senegal that have reached the quarter final would not also be there.
As a prelude to the scheduled world cup draws in December, the countries have been seeded into four pots.
Pot one has- Russia, Germany, Brazil,, Portugal, Argentina, Belgium, Poland and France. Pot 2- Spain, Peru, Switzerland, England, Colombia, Mexico, Uruguay and Croatia. Pot 3- Iran, Senegal, Egypt, Tunisia, Denmark, Sweden, Costa Rica and debutants Iceland.
In Pot 4 are Nigeria, Morocco, Panama, Korea Republic, Japan, Australia and Serbia.
According to FIFA, the October football world ranking was used as a parameter to select teams into the four pots, which the grouping of the
teams into the eight groups in December 1 draws will be made.
Going by the teams in the pots, indication is that Nigeria may likely fall in the same group of football powers like Germany, Brazil, Spain, Argentina and England.
Although FIFA had promised that apart from Europe, the draws would be made in such a way that same nations will not meet themselves in the same group in the first round. But football pundits still look at the likelihood of two African teams falling in the same group in the first round.
For many Nigerians, they are expectant of which group Nigeria will fall in which will determine how far the Eagles will go.