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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.

  

EUROPE:

13 places

• European qualifying home page

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

Russia...

Sylvain Graglia scores brace as Tahiti beat Papua New Guinea

Papua New GuineaPapua New Guinea
TahitiTahiti
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Tahiti moved into pole position in Group B of Oceania World Cup qualifying with a 3-1 win away at Papua New Guinea on Thursday.

PNG, who last year lost to New Zealand on penalties in the final of the OFC Nations Cup, opened the scoring in Port Moresby in first-half injury time through Nigel Dabingyaba.

Sylvain Graglia equalised just before the hour and he turned the game around with his second five minutes from time. Teaonui Tehau put the result beyond doubt with the third in added...

Shane Smeltz urges FFA to reschedule Wellington-Newcastle game

An early red card ensured that the Newcastle Jets couldn't keep up with the Brisbane Roar.

Wellington Phoenix striker Shane Smeltz has called on the FFA to reschedule his side's round 24 clash with Newcastle.

The March 26 fixture in Wellington is scheduled just 24 hours after New Zealand's All Whites play Fiji in a crucial World Cup qualifier in Lautoka.

It also falls just two days before the return leg in the Kiwi capital.

Many of the Phoenix's key players, including Kosta Barbarouses, Andrew Durante, Glen Moss and potentially Smeltz, will be forced to miss the Jets match.

In-form winger...

New Zealand football legend Steve Sumner dies, aged 61

Steve Sumner, who captained the New Zealand football team that played at the 1982 World Cup after the longest qualifying campaign in the tournament's history, died on Wednesday. He was 61.

New Zealand Football said Sumner had died from prostate cancer, which was first diagnosed in 2015.

English-born Sumner led New Zealand through a 15-match qualifying campaign which included matches against Australia, Fiji, Indonesia, China, China Taipei, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.

New Zealand to benefit from World Cup expansion - Andy Martins

New Zealand
New Zealand have a better chance of making the World Cup finals with the new format.

An expanded World Cup could have huge benefits for soccer in New Zealand, NZ Football chief executive Andy Martin claims.

The sport's governing body, FIFA, has announced its decision to increase the number of teams in the World Cup from 32 to 48 from 2026.

Details on how the 16 additional places will be allocated have yet to be finalised, but Martin says it appears Oceania will receive at least one.

"We don't know the detail, and that'll come out over the next three or four months," Martin said...