World Cup qualifying - the state of play around the world
We already know 17 of the teams who will be competing in next summer’s World Cup
Lionel Messi of Argentina during the qualification match against Peru in Buenos Aires. Photograph: PA
The race to qualify for the 2018 World Cup in Russia is nearing its conclusion.
Here’s a look at how things stand in the different continental sections.
Nigeria became the first African side to qualify for next summer’s finals with a 1-0 win over Zambia on Saturday and Egypt joined them thanks to a 2-1 victory over Congo on Sunday. The remaining three qualifiers will not be determined until next month.
Tunisia need just a point in their final game at home to Libya to be certain of qualifying, the Ivory Coast must beat Morocco to overtake them and win Group C, while Sadio Mane’s Senegal will qualify as Group D winners with a home victory over South Africa.
Iran, South Korea, Japan and Saudi Arabia were the first four Asian nations to qualify.
Australia and Syria — the third-placed finishers in the two Asian final-round qualifying groups — play the second leg of their play-off on Tuesday with the score 1-1 after the first leg. The winner will take on the team which finishes fourth in the CONCACAF section over two legs for a place in Russia.
Mexico and Costa Rica’s qualification means only one automatic berth is still open, with the United States in pole position to claim it. A win over the group’s bottom side Trinidad and Tobago on Tuesday will seal their passage. Panama currently occupy fourth, which carries with it a play-off against Australia or Syria. If they can achieve a better result against Costa Rica than fifth-placed Honduras manage against Mexico, they will definitely hold onto fourth place at the very least.
New Zealand face a play-off next month against the team finishing fifth in South American qualifying, with the winner of that two-legged tie qualifying for the finals.
Brazil are home and hosed but the remaining three automatic qualifying places in South America — and the identity of the team which gets a second chance in a play-off against New Zealand — is far from settled with the final round of games in the 10-team group being played on Tuesday night. Uruguay just need to draw at home to Bolivia to join Brazil but beneath them, only two points separate the next five teams in the standings with one round of games to go. Argentina know that three points away to Ecuador would get them at least a play-off place but winning at high altitude will be no easy achievement.
ALREADY QUALIFIED: Belgium, Brazil, Costa Rica, Egypt, England, Germany, Iceland, Iran, Japan, Mexico, Nigeria, Poland, Russia (hosts), Saudi Arabia, Serbia, South Korea, Spain.