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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

Jozy Altidore returns to United States squad for World Cup qualifiers

Jozy Altidore is back with the national team after missing out on the Copa America Centenario.

Clint Dempsey and Gyasi Zardes have been left off the United States' squad for their upcoming World Cup qualifiers in September, but Jozy Altidore has returned.

U.S. boss Jurgen Klinsmann selected a veteran-laden squad to take on against St. Vincent and the Grenadines on Sept. 2, and Trinidad & Tobago four days later, including currently in-form Toronto FC striker Altidore who missed the U.S.'s Copa America Centenario campaign this summer with a hamstring injury.

Dempsey has been left off due to...

 By Tom Marshall

Giovani dos Santos, Carlos Vela left out of Mexico squad for qualifiers

Giovani dos Santos sits down with SportsCenter's Diana Russini to talk about his move to MLS and his absence from El Tri.

Los Angeles Galaxy forward Giovani dos Santos and Real Sociedad's Carlos Vela have been left out of coach Juan Carlos Osorio's first Mexico squad since El Tri crashed out of the Copa America with a 7-0 loss to Chile at the quarterfinal stage.

Dos Santos and Vela missed out on the summer tournament and are once again sidelined, even with strikers Javier Hernandez and Oribe Peralta both missing the World Cup qualifying games against El Salvador away (Sept. 3) and Honduras at home (Sept. 7) due to injury.

Javier 'Chicharito' Hernandez out for two weeks with fractured hand

While Chicharito has fit in quite well at Bayer Leverkusen, is it possible he seeks a move away from the Bundesliga side?

Javier "Chicharito" Hernandez will miss Bayer Leverkusen's first match of the new Bundesliga season and is a major doubt for Mexico's upcoming World Cup qualifiers after fracturing his hand in a fall at home.

Chicharito, 28, provided a crucial goal and one assist in Leverkusen's 2-1 win at minnows SC Hauenstein in their DFB Pokal tie at the weekend. He was set to start at Borussia Monchengladbach on Saturday, but is instead now facing two weeks on the sidelines.

The Mexico striker is now also likely...

ESPN FC  By ESPN staff

Mexico federation backs Juan Carlos Osorio to coach World Cup qualifying

ESPN FC's Alejandro Moreno assesses the reasons behind Mexico and Argentina's failure at the Olympics.

Mexico Football Federation general secretary Guillermo Cantu has given national team coach Juan Carlos Osorio the federation's backing for the upcoming CONCACAF World Cup qualifying matches in September.

Osorio has not spoken since Mexico failed to advance past the group stage in Rio to defend their 2012 Olympic gold medal. 

Cantu classified Mexico's dismal performance in Brazil as "a failure" but told reporters at the airport in Brasilia that there are no plans to sack Osorio.

"He is firm...