FIFA World Cup 2018™: Story of Qualification Part 1

FIFA World Cup 2018™: Story of Qualification Part 1

It took 872 matches, saw 2,454 goals scored
and was watched my nearly nineteen million people. There were riots, fireworks, heartbreak
and joy across six continents. Finally, the qualification for the World Cup finals is
finished, and we know the final 32 teams But qualification for Russia 2018 started
almost three years ago, and just nine months after Germany beat Argentina 1-0 in Rio’s
Maracana Stadium. It all began in Asia, with the 12 lowest ranked
teams. The first game to kick off was the former Portuguese colony of Timor-Leste v
Mongolia. Close to 10,000 supporters packed the National Stadium in the Timorese capital
of Dili in Southeast Asia, just north of Australia, to see Timor Leste win 4-1. They won the return
in Mongolia 1-0 but would later be effectively removed from qualification for naturalising
a host of Brazilian players. But the tie of the round was in Sri Lanka,
who were playing Bhutan. Bhutan, an isolated, ancient Himalayan kingdom, were ranked last
in the world by FIFA, and were playing their first ever World Cup game. They were so isolated
that TV was banned until 1998. Yet, in Sri Lanka, The Dragon Boys – captain
by Karma Shedrup Tshering, a pilot for Bhutan’s national airline – won 1-0 at the Sugathadasa
Stadium in Colombo, with a cricket scoreboard keeping tally. The return game took place at the Changlimithang
Stadium in Thimphu. At almost 9,000 feet, it is the second highest capital city in the
world. The government gave the whole country a half day and the stadium was packed with
people in traditional outfits. The players went and threw dice with Buddhist monks before
the game. It brought them luck. They won their second game 2-1, and qualified for the next
round. They joy was short lived though. They lost all eight games, scoring five, but conceding
52 (including a 15-0 defeat to Qatar) ending up with a goal difference of -47. Others had harder journeys. With their country’s
infrastructure destroyed by war, and the airport off limits, the Yemen national team had to
be smuggled out of the country, taking a 13 hour ferry from Aden to Djibouti, before flying
to neutral Qatar. They beat Pakistan 3-1 but the travel would prove too much and they would
finish bottom of their group. Big spending China qualified for the final
round by the skin of their teeth following an incredible final day. Four out of eight
second place teams would qualify making the calculus almost impossible. Jordan had brought
in Harry Redknapp to take the Middle Eastern team over the line. But after hammering Bangladesh
8-0, Australia destroyed Redknapp’s Jordan 5-1 and they were out. The mysterious 2010 finalists North Korea
had the easiest path, and were on course to make the final round, beating The Philippines
2-1 with five minutes to go. But somehow they conceded twice late on, Australia born Iain
Ramsay ending North Korea’s hopes. That left China, who need all those results
AND a 2-0 victory . The Premier Xi Jinping had made a huge political and economic bet
on football; encouraging investment in the Chinese Super League and abroad, with businessmen
hovering up clubs like Inter and AC Milan, West Brom and Wolves. They brought back Gao
Hongbo as coach and, in a packed stadium in Xian, Wu Lei made it 2-0 late on and China
were through. But this wasn’t to be their year. China and
Gao Hongbo struggled. A 1-0 defeat to Syria saw protests demanding his sacking after he
game in Xian. He was fired. China will have to wait until Qatar 2022 to continue Xi’s
football revolution. The big hitters qualified: Iran, Saudi Arabia,
Japan and South Korea. But the story of the round, indeed of the World Cup, was Syria.
The country had been mired in a vicious civil war that had seen half of the population displaced,
sparking the biggest movement of refugees in Europe since World War Two. Many of the players, including their best
Firas al Khatib and Omar al Somah, refused to play for a team that was pro-Bassar al
Assad’s regime. It didn’t help that at a press conference before one qualification match,
the coach and some players wore Assad pictures on their shirts. With Damascus too dangerous, Syria would play
its home games firstly in Oman, then in Malaysia. And they kept winning, scoring late, last
minute goals. It was a complex cinderella story and Khatib and Somah returned to the
team, saying they were doing so for the people. Syria finished third in their group and met
Australia in the last Asian play off round. The return leg in Sydney went to extra time,
but a Tim Cahill goal broke Syrian hearts. Assad met the team in their return, including
Firas al Khatib. Meanwhile, Oceania had drama of its own. American
Samoa hold the world record for the largest ever defeat: 31-1 against Australia in 2001.
After their heroic exploits in 2014 qualification – where they won their first ever game,
captured in the superb documentary Next Goal Wins – Am Sam again came close. Alas, transgender
centre back Jaiyah Saelua – part of Samoa’s Fa’fafina, a third sex in Polynesian culture,
was dropped from the squad. The four worst teams were the same as before:
Samoa, American, Samoa, Cook Islands, hosted in Tonga. Am Sam was coached by Larry Mana’o,
the understudy to previous coach Thomas Rongen. Again it came down to the final game. Am Sam
had to beat Cook Islands by a goal more than Samoa beat Tonga. They fell just two goals
short. In the end, after hammering the Solomon Islands,
New Zealand reached the intercontinental play off against Peru. After a 0-0 in New Zealand,
the All Whites arrived to a cauldron in Lima. At 3am, Peru fans were letting off fireworks
outside the New Zealand hotel to keep them awake. At the Estadio Nacional in front of
40,000 people, Peru qualified for their first finals since 1982 in front of 40,000 celebrating
fans. The government announced that the next day would be a national holiday Yet central and north America saw was perhaps
the most unexpected story of qualification. The early rounds saw the weakest teams play
three rounds of knock out games. The highlight was Curacao, a Dutch protectorate off the
coast of Venezuela. Their coach was former Barcelona and Holland legend Patrick Kluivert.
Several Dutch players have Curacaoian heritage like Kluivert and his squad was full of Dutch
born talent, Like Everton’s Cuco Martina. Curacao were eventually knocked out of the
third round by El Salvador. And so, on to the Hex, the final six team
group stage from which the US has qualified for every finals since 1998 and hadn’t missed
a World Cup since Mexico 1986. Results were poor and coach Jurgen Klinsmann was fired,
replaced by former USMNT coach Bruce Arena. Mexico and Costa Rico had already made it
when it came to the final rounds of matches. Win against already eliminated Trinidad and
Tobago and the US was through no what. It didn’t quite work out like. The went 2-o down
in the first half and couldn’t claw their way back. Borussia Dortmund’s Christian Pulisic
scored one early in the second half but it ended 2-1. In Honduras there was drama as La Bicolor
beat Mexico 3-2 and clinched the inter continental play off against Australia (which they’d eventually,
heartbreakingly lose). But there were incredible scenes in the Estadio
Rommel Fernández, Panama City, when Roman Torres (who plays in MLS) scored a later winner
to beat Costa Rica. They qualified for their first ever finals with a team that has few
stars playing in Europe, although their goalkeeper Jaime Penedo plays for Dinamo Bucharest in
Romania. The US, who had beaten Panama 4-0 in the previous
round was out, and the inquisition had begun.

100 Replies to “FIFA World Cup 2018™: Story of Qualification Part 1”

  1. James Montague, the writer of this, sat down and interviewed the Goalkeeper of Panama this weekend too, which you can see here. If you enjoyed the video it's a must read:

  2. US has qualify every world cup since 1998, and hadn't missed a world cup since Mexico 1986. What about 90 and 94 as host?

  3. although t&t beat usa, costa rica was the real reason usa didnt qualify. a 4-0 thrashing in costa rica and a humiliating 2-0 win in new jersey took enough points off of the usa for a comfortable qualification

  4. nah that’s ok don’t even fucking talk about australia. we played the most qualifying games and have one of the best success stories of this years qualifiers.

  5. Thank you for talking about my country,hope we do better in the next world cup qualification!

  6. Asia Round 1:
    Timor-Leste 4-1 Mongolia
    Mongolia 0-1 Timor-Leste
    (Aggregate:5-1 for Timor-Leste)
    India 2-0 Nepal
    Nepal 0-0 India
    (Aggregate:2-0 for India)
    Chinese Taipei 2-0 Brunei
    Brunei 1-0 Chinese Taipei
    (Aggregate:2-1 for Chinese Taipei)
    Sri Lanka 0-1 Bhutan
    Bhutan 2-1 Sri Lanka
    (Aggregate:3-1 for Bhutan)
    Pakistan 0-0 Yemen
    Yemen 3-1 Pakistan
    (Aggregate: 3-1 for Yemen)
    Cambogia 3-0 Macau
    Macau 1-1 Cambogia
    (Aggregate: 4-1 for Cambogia)

  7. I think he means the largest international defeat, because I seem to remember reading that the biggest win in football was in the Scottish league when Aberdeen bet Arbroath 39-0, I could be wrong so correct me if you can!!

  8. Really professional video?? thanks, It's amazing seeing my country Peru and my flag in there❤❤ ??????

  9. Chile; the 2016 Copa America champions being knocked out on the final day of qualifications after a nationality protest they filed against Bolivia, ultimately gave the edge to Peru over Chile: the reigning South American Champions. Definitely one of the most dramatic storylines of the qualifiers.

  10. Um.. i respect every nation.. but srsly USA, u have easiest oponnents for the world cup.. and u can't even beat them.. 😮 If u r in europe, u will never see world cup.. just sayin'.. From that big nation if u can't choose 24 players who will die for national team on the field… is rly disapointing. Wish u luck in next world cup.

  11. I remember the day that East Timor beat Mongolia everyone was so happy and all the kids in my school were saying that they were going to win the hole thing.

  12. While passion for your country is important, it saddens me that Peru would do something like that. While there certainly have been worse cases of this behavior from South America, it is still disrespectful nonetheless. They got what they deserved I suppose, as they are out in groups.

  13. You skim by australia like their some sort of dream ruiners for the lower nations. We had to go throgh a record number of games an distance traveled to qualify so id appreciate some respect.

  14. I think the US will come good again in a few years. They've got Pulisic, Yedlin, Cameron Carter-Vickers and a few other young players who are all under 24. They just need a bit more time.

  15. Do one after the 2022 qualifiers end and I'll definetely make about 50 google accounts to subscribe to this channel

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