After the end of the rigorous qualifiers, only 32 teams qualify for the World Cup- 14 from Europe, three from Concacaf and five teams each from Africa, Asia and South America
The 21st edition of FIFA World Cup is set to kick off in a few hours with the host country Russia facing Saudi Arabia at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow.
In this article, we find out how these teams qualified for the competition.
1. How does the qualification process begin?
The governing body of football, FIFA has six affiliated continental confederations: Africa (CAF); North, Central America and the Caribbean (CONCACAF); Asia (AFC); South America (Conmebol); Europe (UEFA) and Oceania (OFC).
About 211 countries fall under these confederations. Other than the host country, all teams have to qualify to feature in the World Cup. Most confederations have a tiered structure, according to which the lowest ranked teams play first in the qualifiers, almost three years before the actual competition begins.
2. When do the prominent teams start their World Cup campaign?
This mostly depends on the qualification structure of the respective confederation. For example, South America does not have a tiered structure. Therefore, every member country of the Conmebol, including bigwigs Argentina and Brazil, have to play two matches- one home, one away- against each team. The four teams that top the points table make it to the tournament.
Asia, on the other hand, has a three-tier system, that ensures that small countries are not matched up with the big teams right away.
3. How many teams qualify?
After the end of the rigorous qualifiers, only 32 teams qualify for the World Cup- 14 from Europe, three from Concacaf and five teams each from Africa, Asia and South America.
4. How are the teams put into groups?
The qualified teams are segregated into four batches of eight teams. The top-ranked teams form the part of batch one and so on. Team names are then drawn at random to form eight groups consisting of four teams each. Ideally, each group should have one team from each batch.
FIFA tries to avoid geographical clashes, but since European countries comprise of almost half the qualified teams, each group can have a maximum of two European teams.
The fate of the Indian teamWhen the qualification process began- India kicked off their campaign in the first round. While India went past Nepal in the two legs, they fell face first, losing seven of its eight matches in the second round where they were clubbed with Oman, Guam, Iraq and Turkmenistan.