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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...

Goalkeeper Khairul Fahmi calls for Malaysia to recapture Suzuki Cup spirit

Khairul Fahmi Che Mat has been a mainstay with the Malaysia national team since making his debut four years ago.

Malaysia goalkeeper Khairul Fahmi Che Mat says that the national team must recapture the spirit of last year's stirring Suzuki Cup campaign if they are to lift themselves from a depressing slump ahead of the high profile game against Liverpool later this month.

The Malaysians have failed to win a game in 2015 and suffered a humiliating 6-0 home defeat to Palestine on June 16 in their last international, which was an AFC World Cup qualifying match.

That result -- coupled with a 1-1 home draw to minnows...

 By Jason Dasey

Managerless Kelantan get first MSL win since April to ease relegation woes

Playing without a head coach, Kelantan recorded their first MSL victory since April. Photo credit: Asiana.my

SHAH ALAM -- Four days after the shock resignation of head coach Azraai Khor, 2012 Malaysia Super League (MSL) champions Kelantan eased their relegation worries with a 3-1 victory over PDRM FA on Wednesday night.

Here are three thoughts to come out of the Malaysia Super League (MSL) Week 15 match at the Shah Alam Stadium:

1. Managerless Kelantan make progress

Since Bojan Hodak's trophy-laden reign came to an end after the 2013 season, Kelantan have gone through three different head coaches in just...

Yemen default World Cup qualifier for ineligible player

ZURICH -- FIFA has ordered Yemen to default a World Cup qualifying match for fielding a player who was technically banned.

FIFA says it awarded North Korea a 3-0 win over Yemen in an Asian second-round group-stage match on June 11.

North Korea had won 1-0 against a Yemen team including Mudir Al Radaei. He should have served a one-match ban for getting yellow cards in both legs of the previous round.

The game was played in Doha, Qatar, after FIFA ruled Yemen unsafe to host matches.

Yemen are last...

 By John Duerden

Dreams of Russia over, Constantine plots India's long-term rise

With the dream of qualifying for the 2018 World Cup over, national coach Stephen Constantine is focusing on long-term improvement.

For India, dreams of the 2018 World Cup are already over. Finishing first in the group of five is the only way to guarantee a place in the final round of qualification.

Therefore, losing the first two of eight games -- even before playing top-seeded Iran -- means it is not going to happen. But then, Russia was always a dream.

Stephen Constantine knew this even before he returned to India in January to take charge of the nation for a second time, 12 years after his first stint ended.

The new regime...