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World Cup 2022 qualifying permutations: Who can still reach Qatar?

:Headline: World Cup 2022 qualifying permutations: Who can still reach Qatar?:
Ahead of the next round of World Cup qualifiers, Sports Mole looks at the permutations for each section and which teams could still qualify.
Sports Mole

With the 2022 World Cup in Qatar now less than eight months away, 12 spots are still up for grabs at the biggest tournament in the sport.

While four-time winners and current European champions Italy have seen their hopes incredibly dashed for the second World Cup in a row, 29 teams could still mathematically make it to the grandest stage.

Here, Sports Mole looks at the permutations for each section ahead of a decisive week.


The European qualifiers are currently in their playoff stage, with two finals confirmed and Wales due to face either Scotland or Ukraine in the other - the latter fixture having been postponed as a result of Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Russia have also been expelled from the qualifiers as a result, giving Poland a bye through to their playoff final against Sweden.

Italy's conquerors North Macedonia will need to claim another major scalp to secure their place in Qatar as they gear up for a playoff tie against Cristiano Ronaldo's Portugal.

Teams that could still qualify: Scotland, Ukraine, Wales, Poland, Sweden, Portugal, North Macedonia


The four automatic qualification places have now been decided in South America, leaving three teams battling it out for the one playoff spot and an intercontinental showdown with the AFC fourth round winner.

Peru are currently in pole position despite losing a crucial game against Uruguay last time out, holding a one-point lead over Colombia and a two-point advantage over Chile.

Victory for Peru over already-eliminated Paraguay would therefore guarantee their place in Qatar, but any dropped points would open the door for Colombia, who face Venezuela, and Chile, who take on Uruguay.

Victory for Colombia combined with Peru failing to win would see them qualify for the playoff, while Chile would need to beat Uruguay and hope that both Colombia and Peru fail to win in order to steal into fifth place.

Teams that could still qualify: Peru, Colombia, Chile


The two automatic qualification places in Group A have been decided for some time, with Iran and South Korea claiming those spots, but behind them there is a three-way battle for one playoff berth.

United Arab Emirates - with nine points from nine games - currently occupy third, one point above Iraq and three ahead of Lebanon, meaning that matters are still in their hands.

However, UAE face a difficult game against South Korea to complete the qualifying campaign, whereas Iraq take on already-eliminated Syria knowing that a win, coupled with any dropped points for UAE, would be enough to finish third themselves.

Lebanon, meanwhile, would need a shock win away to Iran, Iraq to drop points in Syria and for UAE to lose against South Korea - plus a five-goal swing in goal difference with UAE - to pull off an unlikely third-placed finish.

Whoever does finish third will take on Australia in the AFC fourth round, with Group B having already been decided as far as the top three is concerned.

Teams that could still qualify: United Arab Emirates, Iraq, Lebanon, Australia


The African qualifiers will all come down to Tuesday's five playoff second legs, but some of the continent's biggest names are guaranteed to miss out - including one of the Africa Cup of Nations finalists.

Egypt beat Senegal 1-0 in the first leg of their playoff to give themselves the slight edge at the halfway stage of the tie, while Algeria beat Cameroon by the same scoreline in their first leg.

Tunisia also hold a 1-0 advantage over Mali, while Congo DR and Morocco played out a 1-1 draw and Ghana's first leg with Nigeria ended goalless.

Teams that could still qualify: Egypt, Senegal, Algeria, Cameroon, Tunisia, Mali, Ghana, Nigeria, Congo DR, Morocco


Canada became the first CONCACAF nation to secure qualification on Sunday night, and they will be joined by two more teams when the section concludes on Wednesday.

Three nations are still in contention for those two places, with USA and Mexico having things firmly in their hands heading into the final match.

USA players celebrated with a banner declaring their qualification following their big win over Panama on Sunday, but mathematically they must still complete the job when they face Costa Rica, who are the other team still in contention.

However, Costa Rica's vastly inferior goal difference means that they would need to beat USA by at least six goals to replace their opponents in the top three, so USA's place in Qatar is all but secure already.

The only other way Costa Rica could finish in the top three rather than a playoff spot is if they beat USA and Mexico lose to El Salvador, with a five-goal swing between the two games in the process.

Teams that could still qualify: USA, Mexico, Costa Rica


There are only two teams left in the OFC qualifying section, with the winners going through to an intercontinental playoff against fourth place in CONCACAF rather than a World Cup spot.

New Zealand will be favourites to go through to that playoff - most likely against Costa Rica - but first they must overcome minnows the Solomon Islands in the final.

Teams that could still qualify: Solomon Islands, New Zealand

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