The United States, Chile, and Holland have shocking failed to qualify for the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia next summer. Qualifying began on March 12, 2015 and as of October 11, 2017, 23 nations have booked their place to join host nation Russia in next year's tournament which means there are 9 spots still up for grabs...
SOUTH AMERICA (CONMEBOL 4.5 PLACES)
With Argentina's hopes of qualifying for the World Cup in jeopardy, Lionel Messi carried his nation on his back and scored a hat trick to rally his country to a 3-1 win over Ecuador and a spot in Russia next summer. Argentina join Brazil, Uruguay and Colombia while Peru will play a two-legged playoff vs. New Zealand.
EUROPE (UEFA; 13 PLACES)
Cristiano Ronaldo and Portugal confirmed their spot at the 2018 World Cup by beating Switzerland 2-0 in their final UEFA qualifier. Anything less than a victory would have seen Portugal forced to go through a two-legged playoff, but instead they top Group B on goal difference above the Swiss, who will drop into the playoffs despite winning all nine of their previous qualifiers. France also eased into the World Cup finals by securing top spot in Group A with a 2-1 win at home to Belarus. Portugal and France join Belgium, England, Germany, Iceland, Poland, Serbia and Spain. Teams battling in the playoffs include Switzerland, Italy, Croatia, Denmark, Northern Ireland, Sweden, Republic of Ireland, Greece. Sadly, Gareth Bale and Wales failed to qualify. Iceland however, have become the smallest nation ever to qualify for the World Cup, eclipsing 2006's Trinidad & Tobago. The northern European country, who famously knocked England out of Euro 2016, has a population of just over 335,000 people.
NORTH AMERICA, CENTRAL AMERICA, CARIBBEAN (CONCACAF; 3.5 PLACES)
In one of the biggest shocks of qualifying, The United States have failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup. The U.S. were upset in Trinidad & Tobago losing 2-1 to a second-tier Soca Warriors side while both Honduras and Panama won their games to pass the Americans in the CONCACAF standings. Honduras earned the final qualifying spot with a 3-2 victory of already-qualified Mexico and Panama scored a last gasp goal to beat Costa Rica 2-1. This is the first American group not to make the World Cup since 1986. Mexico, Costa Rica and Panama are going to Russia next summer while Honduras will play a home and away playoff series against Australia.
ASIA (AFC; 4.5 PLACES)
Iran, ranked no. 25 in the world, was the very first nation to qualify for World Cup 2018. They earned 6 wins, 4 draws and only allowed 2 goals against in 10 games. They will be going to Russia along with South Korea and Saudi Arabia. Australia will need to defeat Honduras in a playoff series to also book their tickets.
AFRICA (CAF; 5 PLACES)
We're approaching the climax of Africa's World Cup qualifying programme, with Nigeria and Egypt having booked their tickets to Russia already. Liverpool star Mohamed Salah was the hero for Egypt with a brace as the Pharaohs reached the finals for the first time in 27 years, in the process ending Ghana's feint hopes of qualification during October's 2-1 win. Egypt have only turned out at the World Cup finals on two previous occasions, in 1934 and 1990. They have never won a game at that level, so there is the chance for history to be made in 2018. Tunisia appear primed to follow them, while Morocco, South Africa, Ivory Coast and Senegal all have their destinies in their own hands as they look to secure one of the continent's five spots at for next summer's global showpiece.