World Cup qualifying has been coming thick and fast over the past few days as the final spots get confirmed ahead of Friday’s draw.
Remarkably, we still won’t know every team who will be playing at Qatar 2022 by the end of this window with the inter-confederation play-offs coming on June 13-14 as well as Ukraine’s tie with Scotland getting pushed to June.
However, we are close to the final line-up, so let’s break it down (scroll to the bottom for the full list of qualified nations)…
Qatar have long been confirmed for obvious reasons. It might be the last time for a while that we see a single team qualify automatically with a three-way host in 2026 (US, Canada and Mexico) and plenty of multi-team bids for 2030. Do with that information what you will.
Okay, so a quick rundown for those who might forget. 10 groups with either five or six teams. Top team qualifies automatically. The 10 runners-up as well as the two best Nations League group winners went into a 12-team play-off structure with three effective paths of four teams each that will provide three qualified teams.
On Tuesday night, Poland and Portugal booked their places. That gives us the following list of qualified teams from Europe.
Scotland or Ukraine or Wales
Far easier format here. 10 South American teams play each other home and away. Top four go through automatically and the fifth team goes into inter-confederation play-offs. Here are the representatives.
Peru/Colombia/Chile go to inter-confederation play-off
Three rounds (knockouts then group stage then knockouts) leaves us with five teams to represent Africa. Those five have been confirmed tonight following the culmination of the two-legged play-offs.
Three rounds leaves us with eight teams battling for three automatic spots and one inter-confederation place. Here are the teams that are through.
USA/Mexico/Costa Rica go to inter-confederation play-off
Another with three rounds. The third round has two groups of six teams. Top two in each group go through automatically. The two third-placed teams will face off to determine who goes through to the inter-confederation play-off. Here are the teams that are through.
Australia/United Arab Emirates will go through to inter-confederation play-off.
New Zealand and Solomon Islands will face each other to see who goes through to the inter-confederation play-off. The qualified team is therefore pretty simple.
New Zealand/Solomon Islands
Here are the two play-off permutations. They will be AFC (Asia) v CONMEBOL (South America) and CONCACAF (North America) v OFC (Oceania).
Australia/United Arab Emirates v Peru/Colombia/Chile
USA/Mexico/Costa Rica v New Zealand/Solomon Islands