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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.



13 places

• European qualifying home page

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


John Terry focused on playing, not England coaching role - sources

Gareth Southgate discussed Wayne Rooney's future as England captain and admitted that others within the squad could lead.
Gareth Southgate made it clear that Wayne Rooney would carry on in his role as captain of England.

Chelsea captain John Terry has no immediate plans to link up with Gareth Southgate's England coaching staff as he plans to continue playing beyond next summer, sources close to the player have told ESPN FC.

Terry, who turned 36 earlier this week, is out of contract at Chelsea at the end of the season and his future at Stamford Bridge has been the subject of speculation after losing his place in the first team in recent months.

Reports have suggested that new England boss Southgate is keen to enlist...

 By PA Sport

Sammy Lee leaves job as England assistant manager

Gareth Southgate says his relatively young England squad have plenty of growth ahead.

Sammy Lee has left his role as England assistant as manager Gareth Southgate begins the process of building his own backroom team.

Lee was drafted in as right-hand man in the Sam Allardyce regime, which lasted only one match and 67 days before a newspaper sting operation cost the latter his job.

Southgate retained Lee's services during his four-game interim spell but, having secured a four-year contract, is now looking for fresh ideas.

Lee is the second Allardyce appointee, after Leicester coach...

 By Ian Holyman

Paul Pogba unlikely to win Ballon d'Or - France boss Didier Deschamps

ESPN FC's Frank Leboeuf shares his thoughts on Paul Pogba's overall performance for Manchester United so far this season.

France coach Didier Deschamps says Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba will not win the Ballon d'Or unless he produces a world-class tournament display.

France international Pogba, 23, became the world's most expensive footballer when he moved from Juventus to United for €105 million (£89.3m) in the summer. 

However, with forwards Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo having won the award every year since Brazilian attacking midfielder Kaka's success in 2007, Deschamps says Pogba's...

Sammy Lee ousted as England assistant in reshuffle - sources

Gareth Southgate says his relatively young England squad have plenty of growth ahead.
Gareth Southgate says he's proud to be England's new manager, but also emphasized he wants to do the job successfully.
England interim manager Gareth Southgate believes he and his coaching staff have brought stability back to the Three Lions.

Sammy Lee has lost his job as England assistant manager as Gareth Southgate overhauls the setup, sources close to the former Liverpool midfielder have told ESPN FC.

The sources said 57-year-old Lee had been told by Southgate and Dan Ashworth, the Football Association's technical director, that his services will no longer be required.

Southgate was confirmed as England's permanent manager on Wednesday after a temporary spell in charge.

Lee, a member of Sven-Goran Eriksson's England coaching team,...