The Qatar World Cup 2022 Qualifiers have now concluded and it is known which 32 teams will compete at the World Cup finals in November.
Initially, 206 nations were involved across the 6 FIFA Federations from around the world in the hope of making the illustrious finals.
The universally-loved game of soccer draws massive crowds and the World Cup – being staged only every 4 years, like the Olympics – is the pinnacle of the sport in many people’s eyes.
While many countries bear the burden of expectation, with well-known stars expected to deliver the trophy for their home nation, other countries are simply overjoyed to be a part of the story, enjoying representing their country on the biggest stage as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
Each of the 6 FIFA Confederations from across the globe hosts its own qualifying leagues in the years leading up to the World Cup. The qualifiers for the 2022 FIFA World Cup began back in 2019, with the final playoff games being played earlier this year.
While the rules differ slightly across each region, the top teams in the qualifying tables progress directly to the World Cup finals – which is sometimes the top 2 teams in a smaller group (like in Europe) or the top 4 or 5 teams in a larger league format (such as in South America).
The next best teams across the Confederations play a preliminary playoff round – for Australia, that meant because they finished third in their group, they faced off against the third-placed team in the other AFC group, United Arab Emirates.
The winner of this initial playoff game then had to play one sudden death game against another team from another continent – in Australia’s case, Peru – in an inter-continental playoff, with the winner being entered into the finals.
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All 32 teams who have qualified for the World Cup have been placed in their respective groups, with each one knowing exactly who they’re going to be playing and when. The fixtures have been released and all group games are scheduled for November and early December.
Some of the world’s best international teams have of course qualified, with the likes of England, Brazil, Germany and reigning champions France all feeling the weight of expectation.
There are some teams who have reached the World Cup for the first time in decades, such as Canada and Wales, who will be hoping to make the most of their long-awaited appearance.
The Socceroos of Australia have also qualified via the inter-continental playoffs, continuing their consecutive qualification for the World Cup Finals since 2006.
There have been some surprise omissions, too, with Italy – winners of Euro 2020 – failing to qualify for a World Cup for the second time in a row, to the dismay of Italian fans.
The teams who have qualified are listed below in their respective groups.
Group A – Qatar, Ecuador, Senegal, The Netherlands
Group B – England, Iran, USA, Wales
Group C – Argentina, Saudi Arabia, Mexico, Poland
Group D – France, Australia, Denmark, Tunisia
Group E – Spain, Costa Rica, Germany, Japan
Group F – Belgium, Canada, Morocco, Croatia
Group G – Brazil, Serbia, Switzerland, Cameroon
Group H – Portugal, Ghana, Uruguay, Korea Republic
Many teams missed out on the chance to represent their country at this winter’s World Cup, with only 32 spots available from 206 countries, but some notable absentees are Italy, Sweden, Norway and Chile, who all have notable stars among their ranks and would have expected to qualify.
The million-dollar question with an impossible answer, as nobody truly knows who is going to find that extra gear, extra pass and extra goal when it gets down to the nerve-wracking knockout matches. Brazil has the most titles with 5, but they’ll have to beat the likes of England, France, Argentina, Germany, Spain, Portugal and more if they want to extend that number.
Although it was awarded surrounded by some controversy – from human rights records to whether the stadiums would be ready in time – countries bid to be awarded the right to host the World Cup many years in advance. Qatar was awarded the 2022 World Cup back in 2010, and is the first country in the Middle East to host the tournament.
32 teams will compete at the World Cup Finals in 2022 – but this will be the last time this many will compete, as the next World Cup in 2026 will host 48 countries across an expanded finals tournament in the USA, Canada and Mexico.