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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

Argentina can turn around in World Cup qualifying - Javier Mascherano

Barcelona's Javier Mascherano is unlikely to serve the one-year prison sentence handed to him due to tax fraud in Spain.
ESPN FC's Paul Mariner says Barcelona defender Javier Mascherano's red card against Eibar was harsh.
Defensive midfielder Javier Mascherano discusses how Argentina must adjust with Lionel Messi on the pitch and help him find his best form with the national team.
Javier Mascherano has said he will let his fitness dictate how much longer he plays for Argentina.

Barcelona defender Javier Mascherano said that despite Argentina's current struggle in World Cup qualifying and the ensuing media criticism of the team, he would never opt out of playing for his home country.

Argentina currently have five points in World Cup qualifying, having won just one match in the first round. Next up are Bolivia on March 29.

"There is constant desire...

Uruguay plans to guard against Zika virus for Brazil match

Uruguay say they will take cautions against the Zika virus when they play Brazil next month in World Cup qualifying.

MONTEVIDEO, Uruguay -- Uruguay's team director says "we have no qualms" about playing a World Cup qualifier next month in Recife, Brazil, the city at the center of the outbreak of the Zika virus.

Uruguay will face Brazil on March 24 in the northeastern city.

Eduardo Belza, the team's sports director, says players have been told to "to use mosquito repellents,...

 By PA Sport

New CONMEBOL chief Alejandro Dominguez makes pact with the Pope

Alejandro Dominguez hopes a partnership with the Pope will prevent future corruption in CONMEBOL.

South American football is seeking divine intervention to help it emerge from its recent problems after signing an agreement with the Vatican.

CONMEBOL, the governing body of South American football, has seen its last three presidents arrested and most of its other leading officials indicted on corruption charges by the US department of justice.

Now the latest CONMEBOL president, Alejandro Dominguez, has signed a collaboration agreement in the presence of Pope Francis, who is from Argentina, with...

CONMEBOL backs Gianni Infantino for FIFA president

Here are the five candidates who will stand for election to be president of FIFA, the election to be held February 26.
ESPN FC's Gab Marcotti gives a run down of the FIFA presidential candidates ahead of the election.

GENEVA -- Gianni Infantino is having the best week of any FIFA presidential candidate for public pledges of support to succeed Sepp Blatter, and got South America on his side on Thursday.

The 10-nation body known as CONMEBOL said in a statement that its executive committee agreed to give the UEFA general secretary unanimous support in the Feb. 26 election.

On Monday, Infantino was backed by the seven federations from Central America, and Trinidad and Tobago also endorsed him on Thursday despite mistakenly...