In a competition that has spanned the last 2.5 years, thirty two teams are now qualified for the 2018 World Cup in Russia. Some of them might surprise you!
What a crazy road to the World Cup! We saw former World Cup Champions fail to make the cut, and we saw a few underdog teams rise to the challenge and qualify for the first time.
Let’s start with the feelgood run from Panama, who has given their country their first ever World Cup berth. Panama bested Costa Rica 2-1, securing their place and simultaneously knocking out the United States. This momentous occasion was the first successful campaign since they started in 1978. It was such an achievement, President Juan Carlos Varela declared the day a National Holiday! Workers had the day off and schools were closed.
Iceland also earned their spot to compete on the world stage for the first time. Iceland has around 335,000 inhabitants, making it the smallest country to ever qualify. The side took down Kosovo 2-0 in Reykjavik to clinch it.
The United States lost to one of the worst teams, Trinidad and Tobago, and were knocked out by the Panama win. The squad had qualified every opportunity since 1986.
The final spot of the 2018 World Cup Russia was filled in dramatic fashion by Peru and the celebration was so intense, it registered as an earthquake according to the seismology center of Chile!
And with good reason, as the last time they made it was 36 long years ago. This day was also made a National Holiday by the Peruvian government.
Seven previous World Cup Winners made it to the Finals once again:
The only former champion to not make it was 4-time winner, Italy, after losing to Sweden. Italy had not missed a World Cup since 1958. Other notable teams that will be watching the competition from home include the US, Chile, Ghana, the Netherlands, and China.
Germany, Brazil, Portugal, Argentina, Belgium, Poland and France are the top ranking teams going into the draw, which will be held December 1, 2017, at the State Kremlin Palace in Moscow, Russia.
The World Cup will run from June 14, 2018, to July 15th.
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