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ESPN FC  By ESPN staff

2018 World Cup qualifying - how it works

The qualifying process for the 2018 World Cup began on March 12, 2015 with preliminary ties between the 12 lowest-ranked nations in Asia.

Chiquito Do Carmo of Timor-Leste had the honour of scoring the very first goal on the road to Russia in a 4-1 victory at home to Mongolia.

There are 31 places up for grabs, joining hosts Russia.

  

EUROPE:

13 places

• European qualifying home page

Qualifying for 2018 sees seven groups of six nations and two groups of five. 

Russia...

CONMEBOL chiefs put millions in personal, suspicious accounts - audit

Despite being sacked as Argentina head coach, Edgardo Bauza thinks and hopes they still qualify for the World Cup.
Nicolas Leoz transferred millions of dollars from CONMEBOL to personal accounts while president of the confederation.

SANTIAGO, Chile -- The leaders of South America's soccer confederation transferred $128.6 million between 2000 and 2015 to personal accounts, suspicious accounts, or unauthorized third-party accounts, according to an audit released on Wednesday by Ernst & Young.

According to the audit presented to the annual CONMEBOL congress in the Chilean capital, the confederation's former president Nicolas Leoz transferred $26.9 million to his personal accounts. Leoz was the president for 27 years until resigning...

Diego Maradona criticism doesn't bother me - Jorge Sampaoli

Sevilla manager Jorge Sampaoli says there's no truth to the rumours that he is set to become the next Argentina head coach.
Sid Lowe explains how the Argentine FA's aim for Jorge Sampaoli to become head coach has negatively impacted Sevilla.

Sevilla boss Jorge Sampaoli refused to comment on Wednesday on the harsh assessment of his abilities made by former Argentina coaches Diego Maradona and Carlos Bilardo.

The two said Sampaoli, reported to be the preferred choice of the country's football association to move into the vacant position, is not the "right man" to guide the national team.

Sampaoli announced last week he had an offer to guide Argentina but would only consider it once the La Liga season is over.

When asked about Maradona...

Sevilla's Jorge Sampaoli 'not aware' of meeting with Argentina chiefs

Sevilla manager Jorge Sampaoli says there's no truth to the rumours that he is set to become the next Argentina head coach.
Sid Lowe explains how the Argentine FA's aim for Jorge Sampaoli to become head coach has negatively impacted Sevilla.

Sevilla coach Jorge Sampaoli says he is not aware of reports that a meeting took place in Barcelona between his lawyer, Fernando Baredes, and the Argentina Football Association (AFA) president Claudio Tapia, over the weekend.

Sampaoli, under contract with Sevilla until June 2018, is reported to be the main candidate to take over the vacant Argentina coaching position following Edgardo Bauza's sacking earlier this month.

TyC Sports has reported that Baredes was seen in Barcelona's Hotel Arts...

Jorge Sampaoli insists potential offers won't distract Sevilla focus

Sevilla manager Jorge Sampaoli says there's no truth to the rumours that he is set to become the next Argentina head coach.
Sid Lowe explains how the Argentine FA's aim for Jorge Sampaoli to become head coach has negatively impacted Sevilla.

Jorge Sampaoli has said that should Sevilla lose to Valencia on Sunday, it would be because he is a bad coach and not because he is distracted by potential coaching opportunities with Argentina or Arsenal or any other team.

"What upsets me is that any losing streak the team might have is linked to things that are unrelated," Sampaoli said during his prematch news conference. "If Sevilla lose because their rival played better, that is down to the manager's lack of ability, not because of [potential]...