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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...

Messi on Argentina ban: 'My sayings were never addressed to the assistant'

Shaka Hislop concedes there is a distinct possibility Argentina will fail to qualify for the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
The FC panel assess the four-match ban handed to Lionel Messi by FIFA and question whether the punishment fits the crime.

Lionel Messi has written to FIFA to request that his four-game international ban be overturned, El Mundo Deportivo has reported.

Argentina captain Messi was punished for verbally abusing a match official during Argentina's World Cup qualifier against Chile last week.

He was fined 10,000 Swiss francs ($10,160) by FIFA's disciplinary panel and is due to miss three more of Argentina's remaining four World Cup qualifiers, against Uruguay, Peru and Venezuela, after sitting out the defeat to Bolivia on...