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Dublin: 10°C Tuesday 18 May 2021

9 places in next summer's World Cup still up for grabs - here are the teams in the running

It’s a big week for a lot of countries.

WE KNOW 23 of the teams that will feature in next summer’s World Cup and the identity of the nine countries who will fill the remaining slots will be revealed over the next week.

pjimage (2) Modric, McClean and Cahill all bidding to reach the World Cup. Source: INPHO/PA

There are four more European places on offer, three spots to be secured in the African qualification and they’ll be joined by the winners of the two intercontinental play-offs.

Here’s who has already qualified.

World Cup 2018 finalists

Europe: Belgium, England, Germany, Iceland, Poland, Russia (as hosts), Serbia, Spain, France, Portugal.

Africa: Egypt, Nigeria.

Asia: Iran, Japan, Saudi Arabia, South Korea.

North, Latin America: Costa Rica, Mexico, Panama.

South America: Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Colombia.

(SP)ECUADOR-QUITO-FIFA-2018 WORLD CUP-QUALIFIERS Lionel Messi celebrates after scoring for Argentina against Ecuador. Source: Xinhua News Agency/PA Images

And here’s who is still left in contention.


The four European play-offs are two-legged affairs starting tonight with Northern Ireland hosting Switzerland in Windsor Park and Croatia facing Greece in Zagreb. Both those return legs are scheduled for Sunday evening in Basel and Athens respectively.

Tomorrow night Italy travel to face Sweden in Stockholm before the return leg in Milan next Monday night.

And in fixture details you already know, Ireland are heading to Copenhagen for Saturday’s showdown with Denmark before meeting them again in Dublin next Tuesday night.

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Denmark: Denmark v Poland - World Cup 2018 Qualifier Denmark's Christian Eriksen Source: SIPA USA/PA Images


The final round of qualification is almost complete in Africa with Nigeria and Egypt the only teams assured of a trip to Russia next summer.

In Group A, Tunisia need only a point in their match against Libya to qualify with DR Congo, three points behind in second place, having to win against Guinea and hoping Tunisia slip up. Both games take place Sunday night.

In Group C, Morocco (9 points) and Ivory Coast (8 points) are left in contention with their tie in Abidjan on Sunday evening set to settle the issue.

Finally in Group D, Senegal (8 points) can clinch qualification with a victory tomorrow evening away to South Africa (4 points).

Liverpool v TSG 1899 Hoffenheim - UEFA Champions League - Play-Off - Second Leg - Anfield Liverpool's Sadio Mané is a key figure for Senegal. Source: PA Archive/PA Images

If they draw or lose, it will see the contest go down to next Tuesday’s final round of fixtures when Burkina Faso (6 points) meet Cape Verde (6 points), and Senegal entertain South Africa.

Intercontinental Playoffs

In the intercontinental fixtures, Honduras take on Australia in the CONCACAF-AFC play-off. The first leg is on tomorrow in San Pedro Sula before the return leg in Sydney next Wednesday.

New Zealand meet Peru in the OFC-CONMEBOL play-off. The first leg is on Saturday in Wellington and the return leg is scheduled for Lima next Wednesday.

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Fintan O'Toole

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