With the conclusion of all but one of the qualifying rounds across the globe we’ve taken a pretty big step towards Russia 2018. The following 23 nations have secured their places at next summer’s World Cup:
- Costa Rica
- Russia (Host)
- Saudi Arabia
- Korea Republic
Nine spots remain. Four from UEFA, three from Africa, and the final two from the Intercontinental Playoff. Here are the matchups for the Intercontinental Playoff:
Australia (AFC) vs Honduras (CONCACAF)
Analysis: Honduras played better and better in each of the last few games during the Hexagonal which culminated in a victory against Mexico; however, Australia has been struggling and barely scraped by Syria in the second leg of the AFC Playoff. This is going to be a tough series for both sides.
First Leg: November 10th, 5:00pm, Estadio Olímpico, San Pedro Sula
*May take place in an empty stadium due to a streaker at the Honduras vs Mexico match
Second Leg: November 15th, 4:00 am, ANZ Stadium, Sydney
New Zealand (OFC) vs Peru (CONMEBOL)
Analysis: On the surface the outcome of this matchup is easy to predict. New Zealand, currently ranked 122nd in FIFA’s World Rankings, will face Peru, ranked 10th. The Kiwis haven’t had a good track record in the Intercontinental Playoff in past World Cups, having beaten only Bahrain in 2010.
First Leg: November 10th, 10:15pm, Westpac Stadium, Wellington
Second Leg: November 15th, 9:15 pm, Estadio Nacional, Lima
Here are the playoff matchups in UEFA:
- Northern Ireland v. Switzerland
- Croatia v. Greece
- Sweden v. Italy
- Denmark v. Republic of Ireland
Here are the final major fixtures for CAF:
(Groups B and Group E aren’t shown: Nigeria won Group B and Egypt won Group E)
- Congo DR v. Guinea, November 11th, 12:30pm, Stade de Matyrs, Kinshasa, Congo DR
- Tunisia v. Libya, November 11th, 12:30pm, Stade Olympique de Redes, Redes, Tunisia
Tunisia clinches berth with Congo DR loss/tie; Congo DR clinches with win AND Tunisia loss by 2+ goals
- Gabon v. Mali, November 11th, 9:30am, Stade de Franceville, Franceville, Gabon
- Ivory Coast v. Morocco, November 12th, 12:30pm, Felix Houphounet-Bolingy Stadium, Abidjan, Ivory Coast
Winner of Ivory Coast-Morocco clinches World Cup berth; Ivory Coast-Morocco draw = Morocco advances.
- South Africa v. Senegal, November 10th, Noon, Peter Mokaba Stadium, Polokwane, South Africa
Rematch of vacated fixture that South Africa originally won, but Senegal challenged the controversial ruling of a penalty and won the appeal.
- Senegal v. South Africa, November 14th, 2:30pm, Stade Leopold Sedar Senghor, Dakar, Senegal
- Burkina Faso v. Cape Verde Islands, November 14th, 2:30pm, Stade du 4 Août, Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso
Pending the first South Africa-Senegal game, all four teams are able to go to the World Cup, however if:
- South Africa loses the game in South Africa against Senegal, they are out for contention for the World Cup.
- Senegal Clinches World Cup Berth.
- If there is a draw in the South Africa vs Senegal then South Africa is out of the World Cup AND Burkina Faso-Cape Verde Islands becomes an elimination game .
- If there is a draw between the first South Africa-Senegal game, Senegal can clinch with a draw/win in the second fixture, BUT a loss in both and a win by either Burkina Faso (by 3+) or Cape Verde Islands (by 4+) would result in the winning nation clinching.
- If South Africa sweeps both games against Senegal then they’ll qualify for the World Cup.