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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...

Melbourne's Etihad Stadium to host Australia vs. Japan World Cup qualifier

Massimo Luongo
Australia and Japan last faced each other in November, 2014. The Samurai Blue won the friendly 2-1.

Melbourne's Etihad Stadium will host Australia's crunch World Cup qualifier with arch-rivals Japan.

Football Federation Australia announced on Wednesday the roofed stadium had won the rights to stage October's game, beating bids from other states and preferred to the Melbourne Cricket Ground.

The potential to sell out the Docklands venue was cited as the reason to send the biggest match of Australia's road to Russia 2018 to the smaller stadium.

"We fully anticipate we can sell it out and, with good...

 By Rob Brooks

Australia still feeling the effects of Tim Cahill's goal vs. the Netherlands

Tim Cahill
Tim Cahill's goal did much more than simply bring Australia level with the Netherlands.

One strike with conviction at the 2014 World Cup was enough for Tim Cahill to set Australia on a revolutionary new path toward unprecedented achievement. Belief, quite simply, cannot be underestimated as a mechanism of this success.

Having succumbed to a highly fancied Chile side 3-1 in their first Group B game of that tournament, the Socceroos' prospects appeared bleak when they conceded an early goal to the Netherlands in Game 2, courtesy of a swift Arjen Robben counterattack. The enthusiasm gained...

 By Paul Murphy

Kroekrit brace gives Thailand first King's Cup victory in nine years

King's Cup champions Thailand
Thailand won the 2016 King's Cup after a 2-0 victory over Jordan in the final.

Kroekrit Thaweekarn was Thailand's hero as his double strike earned the War Elephants a morale-boosting 2-0 victory over Jordan in the King's Cup final on Sunday.

It was the hosts' first triumph in the four-team tournament since 2007 and served as valuable preparation ahead of the World Cup qualifying campaign and AFF Suzuki Cup later this year. A penalty shootout win over Syria, following a 2-2 draw in Friday's semifinal, laid the foundation for the defeat of Jordan, a side who sit 37 places above...

ESPN FC  By ESPN staff

Thailand overtake Philippines, Malaysia rise in FIFA rankings

Thailand will defend their Southeast Asian title later this year after more 2018 World Cup qualifiers.

Thailand have overtaken Philippines as Southeast Asia's leading nation in the FIFA world rankings.

The latest list, released on Thursday, has the reigning AFF Suzuki Cup champions in equal 117th place, up two spots.

Philippines slipped five positions to 120th after being at an all-time high of 115th in May.

The Thais are the one remaining Southeast Asian nation still alive in qualifying for the 2018 World Cup in Russia after an impressive AFC second round campaign and will defend their Suzuki Cup...