FIFA World Cup 2014: How they qualified

2014FIFAWorldCuplogo2 (FIFA)

By DAN KARELL

Thirty-one nations have booked a ticket to Brazil after a World Cup qualifying campaign that began in June 2011 and finished in November 2013 with Uruguay’s scoreless draw in their second leg playoff match against Jordan.

A total of 820 qualifying matches were played by 207 nations across the globe, from Madrid to Manilla and back. Though they didn’t make it past the second round of CONCACAF qualifying, Belize, who played in the first match in the qualifying campaign, saw forward Deon MacCauley finish as joint-top scorer with 11 goals alongside Uruguay’s Luis Suarez and Holland’s Robin Van Persie.

Those 31 qualified nations will join the hosts Brazil today at the World Cup Draw, where they will learn their placement in which groups, and how easy or treacherous their path to world glory can be. All 32 squads are composed of strong players who could defeat many teams on any given day, and there certainly won’t be many easy groups once the draw is completed.

Before we head to the draw though let’s take a look back at how each of the 31 countries qualified for Brazil 2014:

ALGERIA

Qualifying Record: 6 wins, 0 draws, 2 losses

Biggest win: 4-0 over Rwanda

Head coach: Vahid Halilhodzic

Key Players: Adlène Guedioura, Rafik Djebbour, Madjid Bougherra

By the Numbers: Algeria hold a 100 percent World Cup qualifying record at home since 2005.

ARGENTINA

Qualifying Record: 9 wins, 5 draws, 2 losses

Biggest win: 4-0 vs. Ecuador

Head coach: Alejandro Sabella

Key Players: Lionel Messi, Gonzalo Higuain, Fernando Gago

By the Numbers: 35 goals scored in 2014 WCQs is most in South American qualifying. 19 of those goals came from Messi (10) and Higuain (9) alone.

AUSTRALIA

Qualifying Record: 8 wins, 4 draws, 2 losses

Biggest win: 4-0 vs. Jordan

Head coach: Ange Postecoglou

Key Players: Tim Cahill, Robbie Kruse, Mile Jedinak

By the Numbers: Almost half (12) of Australia’s 25 WCQ 2014 goals came in the final 15 minutes of play.

BELGIUM

Qualifying Record: 8 wins, 2 draw, 0 losses

Biggest win: 3-0 vs. Serbia

Head coach: Marc Wilmots

Key Players: Eden Hazard, Vincent Kompany, Romelu Lukaku

By the Numbers: Belgium won all their away WCQ matches.

BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA

Qualifying Record: 8 wins, 1 draw, 1 loss

Biggest win: 8-1 vs. Liechtenstein

Head coach: Safet Susic

Key Players: Edin Dzeko, Miralem Pjanic, Vedad Ibisevic

By the Numbers: Dzeko (10) and Ibisevic (8) together scored the most goals by any duo in UEFA WCQs.

BRAZIL

Qualifying Record: NA

Biggest win: NA 

Head coach: Luiz Felipe Scolari

Key Players: Neymar, Oscar, Thiago Silva

By the Numbers: Between October 2011 and November 2013, Brazil played in 36 matches including 31 friendlies and five matches at the Confederations Cup last June, which Brazil won. Brazil is also undefeated in home WCQs.

CAMEROON

Qualifying Record: 5 wins, 2 draws, 1 loss

Biggest win: 4-1 vs. Tunisia

Head coach: Volker Finke

Key Players: Samuel Eto’o, Jean Makoun, Alexandre Song

By the Numbers: Eto’o, who scored twice in the WCQs, has now scored in four straight qualifying campaigns.

CHILE

Qualifying Record: 9 wins, 1 draw, 6 losses

Biggest win: 3-0 vs. Venezuela

Head coach: Jorge Sampaoli

Key Players: Alexis Sanchez, Arturo Vidal, Gary Medel

By the Numbers: 13 different players scored for Chile, more than any other team in the South American WCQs.

COLOMBIA

Qualifying Record: 9 wins, 3 draws, 4 losses

Biggest win: 5-0 vs. Bolivia

Head coach: Jose Pekerman

Key Players: Radamel Falcao, Freddy Guarin, Jackson Martinez

By the Numbers: With only 13 goals conceded in 16 matches, Colombia had the best defense in South American WCQs.

COSTA RICA

Qualifying Record: 8 wins, 4 draw, 4 losses

Biggest win: 7-0 vs. Guyana

Head coach: Jorge Luis Pinto

Key Players: Alvaro Saborio, Bryan Ruiz, Celso Borges

By the Numbers: 12 different players scored the 27 Costa Rica goals in WCQs, while they have only conceded 12 goals total.

CROATIA

Qualifying Record: 6 wins, 3 draws, 3 losses

Biggest win: 2-0 vs. Wales, Serbia, and Iceland

Head coach: Nico Kovac

Key Players: Mario Mandzukic, Luka Modric, Darijo Srna

By the Numbers: Among the European teams to have qualified for Brazil 2014, Croatia scored the fewest goals (14) along the way in WCQs.

ECUADOR

Qualifying Record: 7 wins, 4 draws, 5 losses

Biggest win: 4-1 vs. Paraguay

Head coach: Reinaldo Rueda

Key Players: Antonio Valencia, Jefferson Montero, Walter Ayovi

By the Numbers: Since the introduction of the single-group format, no South American side has qualified directly for the finals with a goals-per-game average as low as the one Ecuador achieved in the latest campaign. La Tri netted just 20 goals in 16 matches, or 1.25 per match.

ENGLAND

Qualifying Record: 6 wins, 4 draws, 0 losses

Biggest win: 8-0 vs. San Marino

Head coach: Roy Hodgson

Key Players: Wayne Rooney, Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard

By the Numbers: England finished the 2014 WCQs undefeated with six wins and four draws, their first unbeaten campaign since the 1990 WCQs when they recorded three wins and three draws.

FRANCE

Qualifying Record: 6 wins, 2 draws, 2 losses

Biggest win: 3-0 vs. Ukraine and Finland

Head coach: Didier Deschamps

Key Players: Karim Benzema, Franck Ribery, Hugo Lloris

By the Numbers: France are the first nation to have qualified via the playoffs after overturning a two-goal deficit from the first leg.

GERMANY

Qualifying Record: 9 wins, 1 draw, 0 losses

Biggest win: 6-1 vs. Republic of Ireland

Head coach: Joachim “Jogi” Löw

Key Players: Mesut Özil, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Thomas Müller

By the Numbers: Germany scored at least three goals in eight straight games and scored fewer than that in only one game, a 2-1 victory in Austria. They scored 36 goals in total.

GHANA

Qualifying Record: 6 wins, 0 draws, 2 losses

Biggest win: 7-0 vs. Lesotho

Head coach: Akwasi Appiah

Key Players: Asamoah Gyan, Andre Ayew, Kevin-Prince Boateng

By the Numbers: Ghana scored the most goals in African WCQs, finishing with 25 goals in eight games. Gyan finished with six goals.

GREECE

Qualifying Record: 9 wins, 2 draws, 1 loss

Biggest win: 2-0 vs. Lithuania and Liechtenstein/3-1 vs. Romania

Head coach: Fernando Santos

Key Players: Giorgios Samaras, Giorgios Karagounis, Theofanis Gekas

By the Numbers: Greece managed to keep five clean sheets during the campaign, finishing second to only Ukraine out of teams that qualified for Brazil 2014.

HONDURAS

Qualifying Record: 7 wins, 5 draws, 4 losses

Biggest win: 8-1 vs. Canada

Head coach: Luis Fernando Suarez

Key Players: Carlo Costly, Roger Espinoza, Wilson Palacios

By the Numbers: Costly and Jerry Bengtson combined to score 16 (64 percent) of Honduras’ 25 goals in WCQs.

IRAN

Qualifying Record: 10 wins, 4 draws, 2 losses

Biggest win: 6-0 vs. Bahrain

Head coach: Carlos Queiroz

Key Players: Javad Nekounam, Andranik Teymourian, Reza Ghoochannejhad

By the Numbers: Of all the AFC sides that have secured a World Cup berth in Brazil, Iran did it with the fewest defeats (two in 16 matches, plus 10 wins and four draws) and conceding the fewest goals (seven).

ITALY

Qualifying Record: 6 wins, 4 draws, 0 losses

Biggest win: 2-0 vs. Malta

Head coach: Cesare Prandelli

Key Players: Mario Balotelli, Andrea Pirlo, Daniele De Rossi

By the Numbers: Balotelli’s equalizing goal in Italy’s 2-2 draw with Armenia last October was Italy’s 200th goal in World Cup qualifying history.

IVORY COAST

Qualifying Record: 5 wins, 3 draws, 0 losses

Biggest win: 3-0 vs. Gambia

Head coach: Sabri Lamouchi

Key Players: Didier Drogba, Yaya Toure, Gervinho

By the Numbers: Ivory Coast is undefeated in 21 straight WCQs, with Salomon Kalou scoring five goals in the Brazil 2014 WCQs.

JAPAN

Qualifying Record: 8 wins, 3 draws, 3 losses

Biggest win: 8-0 vs. Tajikistan

Head coach: Alberto Zaccheroni

Key Players: Keisuke Honda, Shinji Kagawa, Shinji Okazaki

By the Numbers: Okazaki was the top scorer in the Asian Zone preliminary competition with eight goals. The forward found the net in six matches, including two braces against Tajikistan and late winners against Omar and Iraq on the road.

MEXICO

Qualifying Record: 10 wins, 5 draws, 3 losses

Biggest win: 5-0 vs. Guyana

Head coach: Miguel Herrera

Key Players: Javier Hernandez, Giovani Dos Santos, Oribe Peralta

By the Numbers: Mexico have had four head coaches during this Brazil 2014 World Cup qualifying campaign.

NETHERLANDS

Qualifying Record: 9 wins, 1 draw, 0 losses

Biggest win: 8-1 vs. Hungary

Head coach: Louis Van Gaal

Key Players: Arjen Robben, Robin Van Persie, Kevin Strootman

By the Numbers: The Netherlands achieved the best goal difference in the UEFA WCQs with a +29 goal differential, having scored 34 and conceded five.

NIGERIA

Qualifying Record: 5 wins, 3 draws, 0 losses

Biggest win: 2-0 vs. Malawi and Ethiopia

Head coach: Stephen Keshi

Key Players: Victor Obinna, John Obi Mikel, Ahmed Musa

By the Numbers: Nigeria scored the fewest goals of all the 31 teams that reached Brazil 2014 through qualification, finishing just 11 in eight games.

PORTUGAL

Qualifying Record: 8 wins, 3 draws, 1 loss

Biggest win: 3-0 vs. Luxembourg and Azerbaijan

Head coach: Paulo Bento

Key Players: Cristiano Ronaldo, Joao Moutinho, Nani

By the Numbers: Ronaldo scored two hat-tricks in the WCQs, the only UEFA player to do so.

RUSSIA

Qualifying Record: 7 wins, 1 draw, 2 losses

Biggest win: 4-0 vs. Luxembourg and Israel

Head coach: Fabio Capello

Key Players: Aleksandr Kerzhakov, Alan Dzagoev, Roman Shirokov

By the Numbers: Russia are the only European side that qualified directly despite losing two games in their group.

SOUTH KOREA

Qualifying Record: 8 wins, 3 draws, 3 losses

Biggest win: 6-0 vs. Lebanon

Head coach: Myung Byo Hong

Key Players: Lee Chung-Yong, Lee Keun-ho, Ki Sung-Yueng

By the Numbers: South Korea lost three matches in WCQs for the first time, falling once to Lebanon and twice to Iran.

SPAIN

Qualifying Record: 6 wins, 2 draws, 0 losses

Biggest win: 4-0 vs. Belarus

Head coach: Vicente Del Bosque

Key Players: Andres Iniesta, Xavi, Xabi Alonso

By the Numbers: Spain had the best defense in UEFA WCQs, conceding just three times, though they played two less matches than most other nations.

SWITZERLAND

Qualifying Record: 7 wins, 3 draws, 0 losses

Biggest win: 2-0 vs. Albania, Iceland, Norway, and Slovenia

Head coach: Ottmar Hitzfeld

Key Players: Gokhan Inler, Xherdan Shaqiri, Tranquillo Barnetta

By the Numbers: Of all the teams who qualified for Brazil 2014 from UEFA, Switzerland had the lowest goals per game average, with 17 goals in ten matches (1.7 goals per game).

URUGUAY

Qualifying Record: 8 wins, 5 draws, 5 losses

Biggest win: 5-0 vs. Jordan

Head coach: Oscar Tabarez

Key Players: Luis Suarez, Edinson Cavani, Diego Forlan

By the Numbers: Suarez finished as the top scorer in South American WCQs with 11 goals, one more than Lionel Messi and two ahead of Gonzalo Higuain and Radamel Falcao.

USA

Qualifying Record: 11 wins, 2 draws, 3 losses

Biggest win: 2-0 vs. Mexico

Head coach: Jurgen Klinsmann

Key Players: Jozy Altidore, Michael Bradley, Tim Howard

By the Numbers: The USA won a total of 11 games in World Cup qualifying, more than any of the 31 other qualified nations. They also played their eight home WCQs in six different cities, maintaining a 100 percent record.

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21 Responses to FIFA World Cup 2014: How they qualified

  1. Paul Miller says:

    Pointless info… and yet… I read through each line of each nation (typo on Japan, where draws and ties are listed, rather than draws and losses)… when I should be working. Where is the ESPN countdown ticker at right now?

    • elgringorico says:

      What is with people like you? You say it’s pointless info and then you spend even more of your precious, valuable time typing out a post like that?

    • TheFrenchOne says:

      you know what else is pointless? your so-called contributions to this site

  2. Nate Dollars says:

    nice write-up. one question: how did spain manage to play 2 fewer games than the others?

  3. HoboMike says:

    Pretty cool that the US had more wins than any other team who qualified (albeit in more games played, too).

  4. Justin Lamber says:

    If you want to see how they REALLY qualified, check out my piece on goal . com

  5. David M says:

    Considering the quality of the opposition, it’s kind of pathetic that our biggest win is 2-0.

  6. John says:

    James Rodriguez is more important to Colombia than Guarin.

  7. Greg says:

    AWESOME article!! I’m sorta obsessive about stats and was starting to do this my self, thanks so much for making it easy on me.

    Really solid work Dan! ….now, can you upload each and every qualifying game as well?!

  8. jason says:

    I’d be great to see the average team age and the oldest/youngest players.