For anyone interested in geopolitics, Ukraine competing at the 2018 World Cup in Russia was an extremely enticing possibility. Croatia ended that possibility with a 2-0 win over Ukraine on the final day of UEFA Group I World Cup qualifying on Monday in Kiev. Croatia will play in a UEFA playoff in November for a chance to go to a fifth World Cup in six qualifying campaigns.
The Republic of Ireland shocked Wales 1-0 on Monday evening, securing their place in the European playoffs and ending the World Cup dream of the Welsh golden generation. The injured Gareth Bale could only watch from the stands as James McClean’s 57th minute strike hushed a previously electric Cardiff City Stadium and late forays forward proved fruitless for the Welsh.
Iceland's excellent showing at Euro 2016, the island's first major international tournament, turned out not to be a flash in the pan. Iceland beat Kosovo 2-0 Monday to ensure qualification to the 2018 World Cup in Russia by finishing at the top of UEFA Group I.
The country's transformation into a football nation to be taken seriously has been swift. Just five years ago they were ranked 131st in the world by FIFA.
Nigeria became the first African nation to secure their spot at the 2018 FIFA World Cup after a 1-0 victory over Zambia on Saturday, successfully navigating the continent's group of death with a match to spare. Nigeria’s qualification comes at the expense of today’s opponents, Cameroon and Algeria.
Alex Iwobi has just scored this goal for Nigeria to put them 1-0 up - A win sends them to the World Cup. pic.twitter.com/5iYTtqN8eb
Heading into Saturday’s early UEFA Group A World Cup qualifying match between Sweden and Luxembourg, the Netherlands’ only hope was that the tiny landlocked country wouldn’t get slaughtered by their Scandinavian opponents.
It’s getting harder and harder to deny the hype of Christian Pulisic; it’s getting harder and harder to find new superlatives for the teenager. Pulisic, who recently turned 19, was brilliant for 55 minutes but that was all he needed to inspire the United States to a crucial 4-0 rout of Panama in World Cup qualifying on Friday in Orlando.
Tiny little Iceland, which thrilled neutrals across the world in the 2016 Euros, has nearly qualified for the 2018 World Cup, which would be the first for the island nation. A nation of 334,000, Iceland traveled to Turkey, a nation of nearly 80 million, and pummeled the hosts 3-0 on Friday to climb to the top of the Group I standings with one match left to play in UEFA World Cup qualifying.
“For me, the national team is over. I’ve done all I can. It hurts not to be a champion…It was the thing I wanted the most, but I couldn’t get it, so I think it’s over.” These are the words Lionel Messi uttered following Argentina’s Copa America final defeat to Chile, and once again, the significance and truth behind the sentiment rings loud and clear.
Scotland’s dreams of qualifying for their first major international tournament since the 1998 World Cup were given a major shot in the arm following a dramatic 1-0 victory over Slovakia before a bonkers crowd at Hampden Park in Glasgow.
Syria salvaged an improbable 1-1 draw with Australia in the first leg of their qualifying playoff to keep their World Cup dream alive, but the Socceroos are still in control of this tie having scored a vital away goal ahead of the return leg in Sydney on Tuesday, October 10.