Europe will take 14 places at the World Cup, who might get the other 18?
South America (Top 4 qualify, 5th place playoff vs Oceania winner)
Brazil are officially through with 2 points separating the next 4 (Colombia, Uruguay, Chile & Argentina) and Ecuador 2 points adrift. It’s fortunate for 5th placed Argentina their trip to Uruguay this week coincides with Ecuador’s away match in Brazil. Ecuador host Argentina in the final match of the group for what might be a nervy night for Messi and co.
Qualifiers: Brazil, Columbia, Uruguay & Chile
Oceania(Winner gets a playoff against 5th place South America)
No wonder Australians are trying to convince us the GPS is wrong and they’re part of Asia, the reward for winning this confederation looks like being a playoff against Argentina. Anyhow New Zealand & The Solomon Islands are set to play-off for the right to book their hotel in Buenos Aires.
Playoff: New Zealand
Concaaf(Top 3 qualify, 4th place plays Asia play off winner)
Ever the most predictable qualifying continent, the Mexicans have almost got it sewn up with Costa Rica 3 points back and the USA struggling to get over the bad start that cost Jurgen Klinsmann his job. The US host Costa Rica on Friday and then play 4th placed Panama
Qualifiers: Mexico, Costa Rica & USA
Asia (Top 2 from both groups qualify, 3rd placed teams playoff- winer faces 4th place Concaaf)
Iran have qualified and visit South Korea on Wednesday, The South Koreans fresh from sacking coach Uli Stielike will be looking nervously over their shoulder at Uzbekistan who are only a point behind them and guess who plays on Baku the following Monday, could a World Cup regular be in trouble?
Qualifiers: Iran & Uzbekistan
Play offs: South Korea
This one is close, Japan have a 1 point lead over Australia & Saudi Arabia with 2 to play. Japan host Australia on Wednesday and are away to Saudi 5 days later. The Australians host Thailand in their final match and a win will likely see them through.
Qualifiers: Australia & Japan
Play offs: Saudi Arabia
Africa (5 Group winners qualify)
There’s still a lot of football to be played before Africa’s participants are decided- 4 of the 6 rounds are yet to be played so here’s a brief summary of where they all are;
It’s a straight fight between Tunisia & Benik Afobe’s Democratic Republic of Congo who play each other in Tunisia this week.
Nigeria are in control of this one, surprisingly 2017 Cup of Nations winners Cameroon are a distant second and Riyhad Mahrez’ Algeria look out of contention. It looks like the Super Eagles will be swooping into Urals next summer.
The Ivory Coast have been the long standing super power of African football but are facing a major challenge from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s Gabon. Aged 28 next summer represents Africa’s greatest talent of his generation’s chance of gracing the biggest stage. The first clash of the big two is this week on Gabon.
Little Burkina Faso have been the great underdog story of recent years and are locked in a tight group with South Africa & Senegal and the punchbag team of Cape Verde Islands . This will be close with South Africa striking the one big blow thus far by beating Senegal at home.
Egypt look favourites but face an unlikely challenge from Uganda. Mo Salah and co are away to Uganda this week, a win will put them in charge of the group.
Group Winners- DR Congo, Nigeria, Gabon, Burkina Faso, Egypt