The qualifying table for next year’s World Cup in Qatar is starting to take shape with 13 of the 32 finalists now known.
Here, the PA News Agency takes a look at which teams have qualified so far and which are still in contention.
Europe (13 places in total)
Qualified: Belgium, Croatia, Denmark, England, France, Germany, Holland, Serbia, Spain, Switzerland.
To be decided: a 12-team play-off tournament next March will determine Europe’s last three qualifiers. The teams involved will be: Austria, Czech Republic, Italy, North Macedonia, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Scotland, Sweden, Turkey, Ukraine, Wales.
South America (4/5 places)
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Qualified: Argentina, Brazil.
To be decided: There are four rounds of matches left in the South American 10-team qualifying competition, from which the top four automatically qualify. The fifth-ranked team will have another chance in the intercontinental play-offs *. Ecuador and Colombia currently occupy the remaining two automatic places, with Peru just fifth, but Chile, Uruguay, Bolivia and Paraguay are still in contention.
Asia (4/5 places)
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To be decided: There are four qualifying rounds left in the 12-team final qualifying phase, in which the teams are split into two groups of six. The first two from each group qualify automatically, with the third two facing each other for the right to play in intercontinental play-offs. Iran and South Korea are well placed in Group A with the UAE, Lebanon, Iraq and Syria apparently competing for third place. Saudi Arabia leads Group B with Japan and Australia in a close battle for second / third.
Africa (five places)
To be decided: Ten teams have qualified for the final qualifying round in March, where they will play in two-way matches for the five available spots. The actors concerned are Algeria, Cameroon, DR Congo, Egypt, Ghana, Mali, Morocco, Nigeria, Senegal and Tunisia.
North / Central America & Caribbean (3/4 places)
To be decided: There is still a lot to play with with six games to go in the final eight-team qualifying group. The first three teams automatically qualify with the fourth place for the intercontinental play-offs. Currently, only two points separate the top four from Canada, the United States, Mexico and Panama. Costa Rica, Jamaica and El Salvador have work to do, but they are not left out.
Oceania (0/1 place)
To be decided: The Oceania qualification process – which only guarantees one participant in the intercontinental play-offs rather than the final tournament itself – has yet to be launched due to the practical difficulties presented by the coronavirus pandemic. Plans have yet to be finalized but a mini-tournament between the region’s 11 teams could take place in March. Countries in the region are American Samoa, Cook Islands, Fiji, New Caledonia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tahiti, Tonga and Vanuatu.
* The Intercontinental Playoffs will see a team from Asia, South America, North / Central America / Caribbean and Oceania play two-way matches to determine the final two places. They will take place in June 2022.