As the world’s best teams gear up to battle for football’s most coveted prize, here’s a look at some big names that will be missing in action in Russia.
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.
The United States of America
USA, who have qualified for every World Cup since 1990, missed out on a finals berth this time around following a dismal qualifying campaign under coach Bruce Arena. USA needed either a win or even a draw in their final qualifying game against Trinidad and Tobago, but they went down 2-1 instead prompting Bruce Arena to step down as coach of the national side.
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 country which brought ‘total football’ to the world, will not be participating in this edition of the World Cup after a disastrous qualifying campaign, where they finished third behind Sweden. Netherland’s early exit forced 33-year-old talismanic forward, Arjen Robben to draw curtains on his 14-year international career.
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
Four-time winners Italy finished second behind Spain in their qualification group and crashed out of the World Cup after failing to score against Sweden over two legs of the playoffs, going down 1-0 on aggregate. Their premature exit spelled an anticlimactic end to the career of keeper Gianluigi Buffon and Daniele De Rossi.