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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.


13 places

• European qualifying home page

Qualifying for 2018...

 By PA Sport

Wayne Rooney overruled Roy Hodgson in England's Kane-corner debate

ESPN FC's Craig Burley discusses England manager Sam Allardyce's comments saying he will play Wayne Rooney as the No. 10.
Wayne Rooney
Wayne Rooney took over England's corner-taking duty despite Roy Hodgson wanting Harry Kane to take them.

Wayne Rooney has admitted he overruled former England manager Roy Hodgson by replacing Harry Kane on corner duty during Euro 2016.

Hodgson was criticised for a number of his tactical and selection decisions as his side failed in France, with one of the earliest debates centring around his main striker delivering dead balls rather than getting on the end of them.

Kane took all six corners in the opening game against Russia, only for Rooney to take over early in the second group match against Wales.


 By PA Sport

Scotland quartet withdraw from squad ahead of Malta World Cup qualifier

Leigh Griffiths scored Celtic's equaliser.
Leigh Griffiths will not play in Scotland's opening World Cup qualifier against Malta on Sunday.

Celtic duo Kieran Tierney and Leigh Griffiths have withdrawn from the Scotland squad for the opening 2018 World Cup qualifier in Malta on Sunday.

The in-form Hoops striker Griffiths flagged up a hamstring problem on Saturday after scoring his seventh goal of the season in a 4-1 Ladbrokes Premiership win over Aberdeen at Parkhead.

Midfielders James McArthur of Crystal Palace and Fulham's Kevin McDonald have also withdrawn for the game at the Ta'Qali Stadium.

Rangers captain Lee Wallace and striker...

Chelsea's Diego Costa: Spain must accept me, I won't change

Antonio Conte stresses how important Diego Costa is to Chelsea's success this season.
Craig Burley says Diego Costa's lack of discipline is no good for anybody and he won't get away with it any longer.
Julen Lopetegui wastes no time, as he has omitted both Iker Casillas and Cesc Fabregas from the Spain squad.

Diego Costa bears no grudges towards former Spain coach Vicente del Bosque after being overlooked for Euro 2016.

Del Bosque, who picked Costa for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil after he became a naturalised player, stepped down after Spain's round-of-16 elimination in France this summer.

Costa has been included in new Spain coach Julen Lopetegui's squad for Thursday's friendly against Belgium and the 2018 World Cup qualifier against Liechtenstein in Leon four days later.

"I only have words of gratitude...

 By Ben Gladwell

Marco Verratti backs Italy's Giampiero Ventura despite Berardi exclusion

ESPN FC's Gab Marcotti discusses how Antonio Conte will be remembered in Italy following his two-year spell in charge of Gli Azzurri.

Marco Verratti believes Giampiero Ventura is the right man to carry forward the work done by Antonio Conte as Italy coach, even if the former Torino boss has come under fire for his refusal to consider Sassuolo's Domenico Berardi.

Verratti is back on international duty having missed out on Euro 2016 due to injury. He said that by merely watching that tournament on television, he could see how well Conte had formed a solid group of players "who won over the hearts of the fans."

Now that the Paris...