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World Cup 2022: Who has already qualified, play-off matches explained

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W

ith just a few days to go until the 2022 World Cup draw, qualifying around the world is coming to an exciting conclusion.

Of the 32 places in Qatar on offer, 20 have already been decided and that will soon be added to as play-off matches are completed and the tournament starts to take shape.

While many of the usual suspects will be playing on the biggest stage at the end of the year, there will be some notable absences. Italy saw their bid to reach the World Cup ended by North Macedonia, while there are some heavyweight clashes in Africa to decide the teams making it to Qatar.

Here are all the teams that have qualified so far, and who could be joining them in the near future.

Hosts:

Qatar

As ever, the World Cup hosts do not have to worry about qualifying and automatically earn a spot at the tournament. Qatar won the Asia Cup for the first time in 2019, and this will be their first appearance at a World Cup.

UEFA:

Germany, Denmark, France, Belgium, Croatia, Spain, Serbia, England, Switzerland, Netherlands

Of the 13 places at the World Cup available to European sides, ten have already been decided.

Those went to the group winners in qualifying. Germany and Denmark were the first sides to book their place in Qatar, with 27 points out of a possible 30 in qualifying, while Serbia, Switzerland, France, Belgium and England were all unbeaten in their campaigns.

The remaining three places will be decided by the play-offs. Portugal face North Macedonia for a place in Qatar, while Poland host Sweden in another play-off final. Scotland and Ukraine’s semi-final has been postponed and scheduled for June, due to the Russian invasion. Wales await the winner in the final.

Italy were beaten by North Macedonia in their play-off semi final, and so the current European Championship holders will not be at the World Cup.

AP

CONMEBOL:

Brazil, Argentina, Ecuador, Uruguay

Qualifying in South American is notoriously tricky, but the top four have been decided even though all the fixtures have not yet been played.

Brazil and Argentina still have to play each other again, though it is already certain they will finish as the top two. Neither side have lost a game so far in qualifying.

Ecuador and Uruguay are currently tied on points in third and fourth respectively, but they cannot be caught and so have qualified for the World Cup at the end of the year.

Peru, Colombia and Chile are all still in the race to finish fifth, with one game remaining. Whoever does so will go through to an inter-confederation play-off against a side from the Asian Confederation.

CAF:

No sides yet qualified

The five African teams going to the World Cup will all be decided on Tuesday night, when the second legs of the play-off matches take place.

Egypt currently lead Senegal 1-0 after the first leg in Cairo, while Algeria beat Cameroon 1-0 away from home. It finished goalless between Ghana and Nigeria, and DR Conga and Morocco played out a 1-1 draw.

In the other play-off, Tunisia take a 1-0 lead into the second leg when they will have home advantage.

AFP via Getty Images

AFC:

South Korea, Iran, Japan, Saudi Arabia

After the second round of qualifying in Asia, 12 teams made it through to the next stage and were split into two groups. The top-two from each of those earned a a place at the World Cup.

South Korea went unbeaten and topped Group A, a point ahead of Iran, while Japan came out on top in Group B and Saudi Arabia finished second.

The two sides that finished third go through to a play-off match to face each other. That was Australia in Group B, while the third-placed team in Group A will be confirmed on Tuesday night.

The winner of the match between those two sides will then face the team that finished fifth in South America for a place at the World Cup. That match will take place in Qatar.

CONCACAF:

Canada

The top three sides in qualifying go straight through to the World Cup, and with a match to go Canada are already assured of their place in Qatar.

It remains to be seen who joins them though, with the United States and Mexico currently in second and third respectively, though Costa Rica are only three points behind and could still sneak in.

The team that finishes fourth will face a side from Oceania in an inter-confederation play-off in Qatar.

Getty Images

OFC:

No sides yet qualified

The Oceania Football Confederation is the only one without a guaranteed place at the World Cup.

Qualifying in the region has reached the final stage, with Solomon Islands facing New Zealand on Wednesday. The winner of that goes through to face the team that finishes fourth in CONCACAF qualifying, which would currently be Costa Rica.

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