The ongoing final phase of the FIFA World Cup qualifiers has thrown up a lot of surprises and shocks. Some teams considered by many as underdogs have found their way to Russia, and some big guns would be absent because they just could not qualify.
Whatever angle you view it from, Russia 2018 is going to be a World Cup of surprises.
Here five teams that shocked us by not qualifying.
1. The United States of America
The United States hosted the 1994 World Cup, where they advanced to the round of sixteen and lost to Brazil. The team qualified for five consecutive World Cups after 1990, becoming one of the tournament’s regular competitors and often advancing to the round of sixteen. The United States reached the quarter-finals of the 2002 World Cup, where they lost to Germany. Another notable result came during the 2009 Confederations Cup, where they eliminated top-ranked Spain in the semi-finals before losing to Brazil in the final, their only appearance in a FIFA men’s competition final. The team missed the 2018 World Cup after being eliminated in continental qualifying, ending a 24-year streak.
The South American nation has a long and intriguing history in the FIFA World Cup games. Chile made its debut in the games in 1930. The Chilean team withdrew from two subsequent editions of the game in 1934 and 1938 only to come back in 1950. The team’s best result was in 1962 when it finished in the third place.
The team was disqualified from the 1990 edition of the game after a desperate shady move made by the team to force the disqualification of Brazil and ensure its own qualification. The team was also banned from the 1994 edition while its goalkeeper, Roberto Rojas who played a major role in the shady move was banned from football for life. He had claimed he was injured by a firecracker thrown into the Maracana football pitch by a Brazilian fan to force the game to an inconclusive end. The team has played in three out of the last five World Cup games, including the last two editions since the ban was lifted in 1998.
The European country has had an impressive run in the World Cup since its first game in 1934. The Netherlands (call it Holland if you like) has played in 10 editions of the FIFA World Cup, finishing second in three editions and third in one. Unfortunately, they won’t be having a chance to take another shot at it in Russia.
The Indomitable Lions of Cameroon have played seven World Cup games since their first appearance in 1982. Their best result came in 1990, during their second World Cup appearance. The African team was stopped in the quarter-final by England who only edged them out by a narrow 3-2 win.
Since its debut appearance in Germany 2006, Ghana has qualified for two other World Cup editions that followed. The country’s best result was in the 2010 edition where the country played in the quarterfinals. Ghana was knocked out of the game by Uruguay with a 4-2 scoreline in a game that ended on penalties. The team couldn’t improve on the results four years later in Brazil. It is such a shame they would not be getting the opportunity again in Russia 2018