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
It is such a surprise that USA failed to qualify for the 2018 games in Russia because the country has qualified for every World cup since 1930 till 2014 with their best result, third place, coming in the 1930 edition hosted by Uruguay. However, between 1954 and 1986, the country didn’t qualify.
USA’s lost to Trinidad and Tobago on Tuesday means the country will not be in the finals for the first time in 32 years.
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.
Posted by Juliet Ekwebelam (Punch)