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Northern Ireland
6:45 PM UTC
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San Marino
Czech Republic
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ESPN FC  By ESPN staff

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.



13 places

• European qualifying home page

Qualifying for 2018 sees seven groups of six nations and two groups of five. 


 By Tom Marshall

Rafa Marquez and Jurgen Damm leave Mexico team with injuries

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MEXICO CITY -- Mexico captain Rafa Marquez and winger Jurgen Damm will not be making the trip from Mexico City to Trinidad for Tuesday's World Cup qualifier.

Marquez felt what the Mexican federation described as "acute back pain" in Friday's 2-0 victory over Costa Rica, and his club side Atlas decided along with national team staff that the 38-year-old should return to his club, rather than embarking on the long flight to Port of Spain.

Tigres' Damm picked up an unspecified muscular injury after...

Paul Arriola joins U.S. while Lletget, Brooks, Morris, Orozco all withdraw

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SAN JOSE, Calif. -- Club Tijuana midfielder Paul Arriola has been added to the United States national team squad for Tuesday's World Cup qualifier against Panama, U.S. Soccer announced on Saturday.

The USSF also announced that Sebastian Lletget, John Brooks, Jordan Morris, and Michael Orozco have returned to their clubs, leaving the U.S. with 23 players.

"It's an unfortunate series of injuries and illnesses," coach Bruce Arena said. "That's all part of it."

Lletget, of the LA Galaxy, suffered a left...