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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.

The draw for the main sections of qualifying takes place on Saturday, July 25, 2015.

EUROPE:

13 places

• European qualifying home page

Qualifying for 2018...

ESPN FC  By ESPN staff

Lionel Messi trains with Argentina, Edgardo Bauza hopeful he'll play

Lionel Messi missed Argentina training through injury and is questionable for their upcoming WCQ's.

Lionel Messi trained with Argentina on Tuesday morning during a practice closed to the media in Buenos Aires, and Albiceleste coach Edgardo Bauza said he was hopeful the Barcelona star would be fit to face Uruguay on Sept. 2.

The 29-year-old underwent tests at Barca's training ground on Monday after he ended Sunday's 1-0 La Liga win against Athletic Bilbao in discomfort.

The club confirmed that he has a sore left hamstring, but gave Messi the green light to travel to Argentina to link up with the...

ESPN FC  By ESPN staff

Gonzalo Higuain not at his best moment for Argentina - Edgardo Bauza

Gonzalo Higuain got Juventus off to a winning start in Serie A.
Gonzalo Higuain's weight and fitness was a concern for Argentina.

Gonzalo Higuain could be called up in the future for Argentina, but Albiceleste coach Edgardo Bauza admits that the Juventus striker was not fit for the September World Cup qualifiers. 

Higuain's weight and fitness in preseason attracted plenty of attention following his €90 million move from Napoli this summer, with even Juve coach Massimiliano Allegri admitting his record signing was "not in shape yet."

Higuain silenced his critics scoring the winner on his competitive debut for...