First, some quick statistics about the qualification process so far:
- FIFA has 208 “member assocations”, roughly corresponding to national teams
- Of these, four did not enter: Bhutan, Brunei, Guam, and Mauritania
- A further two have withdrawn since the start of the competition: Mauritius and the Bahamas
- And, of course, only one team so far has qualified for the World Cup Final: Brazil
- 65 teams have been outright eliminated, which leaves 137 teams competing for a shot at the World Cup title in 2014
- 43 of those teams were eliminated on November 11, 2011, which makes it the deadliest day of qualification so far
On Wikipedia, you’ll find a map that looks something like this:
Where teams in light blue are still in the hunt and teams in orange and red have been eliminated (orange means they still have games to play). But where else will you find a table like this? Yes, that’s right folks, I’ve listed each of FIFA’s 208 members (as of the start of qualifying) and their status.
So what’s going on in the world right now? Well not much. Most confederations won’t have more games until June, but there is some action going on February 29 in Asia. Let’s take a look at the situation.
AFC Group B
Three teams are still in the hunt for Group B’s top two spots. South Korea and Lebanon are tied at the top of the group with 10 points each, while Kuwait has 8. Most of the scenarios hinge on this: if Kuwait upsets South Korea (in Seoul, at that), then they will advance. It’s not a given that the Koreans will win, of course, as Kuwait held them to a draw back in September. If both South Korea and Lebanon do no worse than get a draw, then they both advance. South Korea currently has a +8 goal differential, so most of the crazy scenarios favor them. It likely won’t matter, as Lebanon plays the winless and drawless United Arab Emirates.
AFC Group D
Australia has already topped the group, but Saudi Arabia, Oman, and Thailand are all fighting for second place. The latter three have 6, 5, and 4 points, respectively. Since the Saudis are in the lead, they clinch with a win over the Socceroos, but the Aussies already beat them 3-1 in Saudi Arabia. Oman and Thailand play each other, and both ave a shot at advancing as long as they do not draw (due to goal differentials, Saudia Arabia will almost certainly clinch if these two draw) and Suadi Arabia loses or draws.
AFC Group E
Though Bahrain technically has not been eliminated yet, they need a miracle Indonesia. First, they need Qatar to lose to Iran (which is plenty possible, as Iran has clinched the group). Second, though, they need to win their match and make up their goal differential deficit (basically, they need some combination of 10 goals in their favor in both games). While improbable, it’s not that far-fetched: Iran currently has a +12 differential and Indonesia is at -13. So, they’ve got a chance.
After that, there won’t be any more World Cup action until June. In the meantime, the massive images I made for the AFC and CONCACAF have been updated. Someday I may even have a version of my massive qualification picture that I’m happen with. So stay tuned!