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World Cup 2022 qualifying: Who will take the remaining three spots in Qatar?


The World Cup kicks off in just 175 days with Netherlands taking on AFCON champions Senegal in the opening game.

28 nations from all four corners of the globe have booked their place at the finals, alongwith hosts and debutants Qatar.

So, just three places are up for grabs, all of which will be decided this June.

The postponed European play-off final takes place in Cardiff on 5 June with the inter-confederation play-offs in Qatar the following week.

Here's everything you need to know about these crucial fixtures and predictions of who will make it.

European World Cup play-off: Wales vs Scotland/Ukraine

There are three teams still in contention to qualify from UEFA and, no matter who gets through, it will be a great story.

Firstly, Ukraine are back in action for the first time since Russia's brutal invasion of the county in February.

This delayed the play-off semi-final, initially scheduled for late-March, and, in-spite of the ongoing conflict, the Blue and Yellows are raring to go.

Ukraine have only qualified for one World Cup as an independent nation, actually reaching the quarter-finals at Germany 2006.

Now, Oleksandr Petrakov and his team are looking to inspire a war-torn nation, bereft of any hope in recent months.

Despite this horrendous humanitarian crisis, Scotland will not take it easy against Ukraine as the two meet in a semi-final at Hampden.

The Tartan Army ended their wait for a major tournament appearance last summer and are now looking to reach a first World Cup since 1998.

Steve Clarke's side come into this window having won their last six competitive matches, the Dark Blues' longest streak since 1930.

Whoever prevails in Glasgow will make the 364 mile journey south to Cardiff four days later and will face a wall of noise on Sunday evening.

Wales booked their place in the play-off final by beating Austria in March, thanks to Gareth Bale's spectacular brace in their semi.

This means the Dragons are just one game away from qualifying for the World Cup for the first time in 64 years.

Rob Page's team will be favourites, whoever they face, given that Wales have only lost two of their last 25 competitive games in Cardiff.

Whether it's a British derby or Ukraine looking to complete the fairytale, the final on 5 June is not to be missed.


Prediction: Wales will qualify. 


Inter-confederation play-off: UAE/Australia vs Peru

Similarly, only one of the finalists from this inter-confederation play-off tie is currently known.

First up, the fourth round match-up from Asian World Cup qualification will take place on 7 June.

The favourites in that one are Australia who are aiming to qualify for a fifth successive World Cup, last missing one two decades ago.

The Socceroos played 22 matches to reach Russia four years ago, overcoming Syria in this Asian play-off before a dramatic win over Honduras in Sydney.

Having missed out on automatic qualification once again this time round, Graham Arnold's team are hoping for some 2022 déjà vu.

The first hurdle Australia have to clear this month is the United Arab Emirates, looking to end their 32-year World Cup exile.

No doubt, the U.A.E. are underdogs in this tie having only won three of their 12 third round World Cup qualifiers.

If Australia do advance, they'll be reunited with Peru; the two met in Sochi almost exactly four years ago during the last World Cup.

By reaching that tournament, la Blanquirroja ended their 36-year wait for a World Cup appearance, but are one win away from going back-to-back.

In Inter-continental play-offs, CONMEBOL nations have an imperious record, winning six of seven ties, dating back to Bolivia's defeat to Hungary in 1977.

Ricardo Gareca's team overcame New Zealand last time round, so will be hoping for a repeat this summer.

Incidentally, both matches will take place at Ahmad bin Ali Stadium in Qatar.


Prediction: Peru to qualify.


Inter-confederation play-off: Costa Rica vs New Zealand

24 hours later in Al-Rayyan, the 855th and final 2022 World Cup qualifier will take place, and the identity of these two teams is known.

New Zealand are aiming to qualify for their third World Cup Finals after appearing Spain '82 and then South Africa 2010.

The All Whites won Oceanic qualifying back in March, scoring 18 goals and conceding just once.

However, with OFC awarded just 0.5 places, they must come through this play-off to qualify.

Given this set-up, New Zealand are competing in a fourth consecutive inter-confederation play-off, historically defeating Bahrain in 2009.

However, since then, they've suffered back-to-back heartbreak at this stage, going down to Mexico and then Peru.

This one could provide the same outcome with Costa Rica aiming for their sixth World Cup, only missing South Africa 2010 since the turn of the millennium.

Luis Fernando Suárez's side come into June unbeaten in seven, winning six, form that saw them take the play-off spot in CONCACAF.

This'll be los Ticos' second appearance in these play-offs, crashing out to Uruguay 13 years ago.

Glamour games against Spain, Germany and Japan await the victors, with Costa Rica overwhelming favourites to qualify.


Prediction: Costa Rica to qualify. 


10 international matches not to be missed this June

UEFA Nations League A: Group by group preview 

UEFA Nations League B: Group by group preview 

UEFA Nations League C: Group by group preview 

UEFA Nations League D: Group by group preview 

UEFA Nations League: All questions answered 


Ben Gray

Ben Gray

Arsenal fan – follow them over land and sea (and Leicester); sofa Celtic supporter; a bit of a football '"encyclopedia".



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