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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...

Darren Fletcher: 'I did everything I could to stop Scotland wearing pink

Scotland boss Gordon Strachan reveals who made the best Scottish debut he's ever seen after his side edged Slovenia.
In a match of few chances, Chris Martin played the role of hero for Scotland, scoring an 88th-minute winner against Slovenia.

Darren Fletcher has said he attempted to persuade the Scottish Football Association to abandon their controversial pink away strip for last November's World Cup qualifier against England at Wembley and insisted it would be 'disgraceful' if FIFA rules force the Scots to wear the same colours against the 'Auld Enemy' at Hampden Park in June.

Scotland captain Fletcher led the team out at Wembley in the fluorescent pink outfit after FIFA ruled that the white sleeves on their predominantly dark blue...

ESPN FC  By ESPN staff

Ruud Gullit 'would like to take' Netherlands coaching job

Interim Netherlands head coach Fred Grim says it's important to bring back a feeling of fun after the sacking of Danny Blind.
Goals from Eder and Leonardo Bonucci saw Italy past Netherlands in an international friendly.
Italy head coach Giampiero Ventura believes the Netherlands will recover from their dip in form since the 2014 World Cup.
Steve Nicol says the 'spiral' the Netherlands find themselves in lately goes beyond whoever the coach is.
Danny Blind admitted that it would be tough for the Netherlands to qualify for the World Cup after their 2-0 defeat to Bulgaria.

Ruud Gullit has told beIN SPORTS that he would be interested in coaching Netherlands' national team and described the current situation as "a disaster."

The former Chelsea, Newcastle and LA Galaxy boss has not managed since leaving Terek Grozny in 2011, but captained Netherlands to the 1988 European Championship, scoring in the final, a 2-0 win against the Soviet Union.

"I think that anyone who gets offered this job would like to take it. It's an honour to be coach of the national team," he said....

ESPN FC  By ESPN staff

Madeira airport preparing to be renamed after Cristiano Ronaldo

Cristiano Ronaldo looks forward to playing Sweden in an international friendly near his birth place on the Portuguese island of Madeira.
Craig Burley and Mark Donaldson give their take on what makes the ultimate footballer based on five core attributes.
With a brace against Hungary, Janusz Michallik and Sebastian Salazar look at Portugal, and Ronaldo's hopes for WCQ.
Cristiano Ronaldo's brace helped Portugal breeze past Hungary, as Ronaldo claimed a 70th international goal in the process.

Madeira airport is set be officially renamed Cristiano Ronaldo Airport on Wednesday, despite opposition from local politicians.

A sign with the player's image was already being added to the facade of the airport, which until Tuesday was called the Madeira International Airport.

The Portugal captain is expected to attend a ceremony at the airport outside his hometown of Funchal on Wednesday, a day after his Portugal side play Sweden in the city in a friendly. Portugal's squad landed on Monday at...

 By Ian Holyman

Julen Lopetegui: 'The doors are open' for Iker Casillas to make Spain return

Julen Lopetegui expresses satisfaction with Diego Costa's form for both Spain and Chelsea after another goal.
Four players got in on the scoring for Spain as they routed a helpless Israel side in World Cup Qualifying.
Diego Costa is keen to ensure that his temperament on the pitch is under control ahead of Spain's friendly against Israel.

Spain coach Julen Lopetegui has told L'Equipe the door remains open for Iker Casillas.

Casillas suggested his international career, in which he won two European Championships and one World Cup, was at an end following Spain's round-of-16 exit to Italy at Euro 2016 last summer.

Spain's most-capped player with 167 appearances for his country, Casillas has continued to produce top-level performances for Porto but Lopetegui has not ruled out recalling the former Real Madrid star.

"Of course. Iker is...