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2018 World Cup qualifying - how it works

The qualifying process for the 2018 World Cup began on March 12, 2015 with preliminary ties between the 12 lowest-ranked nations in Asia.

Chiquito Do Carmo of Timor-Leste had the honour of scoring the very first goal on the road to Russia in a 4-1 victory at home to Mongolia.

There are 31 places up for grabs, joining hosts Russia.



13 places

• European qualifying home page

Qualifying for 2018 sees seven groups of six nations and two groups of five. 


 By Colin Udoh

Gernot Rohr begins to make his mark as Nigeria plot World Cup 2018 spot

James Rodriguez nets another absolute screamer in training, and Sturridge is dancing off his critics in The Sweeper.
Gernot Rohr has Nigeria primed for World Cup 2018 qualification.

Not many fans were enamoured when Gernot Rohr was named Nigeria coach in August.

Firstly, the German was not a big-name coach at the same level as Frenchman Paul Le Guen, who had turned down the job despite participating in the interview process.

And, despite a good coaching record with Bordeaux, his international credentials did not go much higher than the likes of Gabon, Niger and Burkina Faso. Not exactly a CV that stirs the blood of passionate Nigerian fans wanting someone to return their team...

FIFA to investigate Serge Aurier for throat-slit gesture with Ivory Coast

Serge Aurier could be in trouble with FIFA after he allegedly used a gesture against Mali.

FIFA are investigating Paris Saint-Germain's Serge Aurier after the defender's apparent use of a throat-slitting celebration during Ivory Coast's 3-1 win over Mali last weekend.

With the scores level at 1-1 after 31 minutes in the World Cup qualifier, the 23-year-old right-back's cross was turned into his own net by Salif Coulibaly to give the Elephants a 2-1 lead at Stade de Bouake.

Aurier then allegedly made the gesture as he celebrated his role in the goal and FIFA confirmed to the AFP on Thursday...

 By Colin Udoh

Rohr must find permanent solutions in defence for retooled, refreshed Nigeria

Nigeria action vs Zambia 161009.jpg
Nigeria defeated Zambia 2-1 in World Cup qualifying last Sunday.

It is very rare that Nigeria's Super Eagles return from an away game to high praise on the back of not just a good result, but a sterling performance to boot. Gernot Rohr and his newly retooled team did just that last Sunday, warming the hearts of many fans with their refreshing 2-1 victory over Zambia.

Even more exhilarating for fans back home was the use of talented young players like Manchester City's Kelechi Iheanacho, Arsenal's Alex Iwobi and Genk's Wilfred Ndidi -- not to mention the brass...

 By PA Sport

Mali coach Alain Giresse praises Serge Aurier's quick reflex

Mali manager Alain Giresse has thanked Ivory Coast defender Serge Aurier for "saving the life'' of Moussa Doumbia on Saturday.

The 22-year-old Doumbia, a forward for Russian side Rostov, was knocked unconscious after a challenge with Sunderland defender Lamine Kone.

Paris Saint-Germain defender Aurier, according to Giresse, then prevented Mali player Doumbia from swallowing his tongue.

Giresse, who won 47 caps for France during his playing days, sought out Aurier after the game, which the Ivory...