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ESPN FC  By ESPN staff

2018 World Cup qualifying - how it works

The qualifying process for the 2018 World Cup began on March 12, 2015 with preliminary ties between the 12 lowest-ranked nations in Asia.

Chiquito Do Carmo of Timor-Leste had the honour of scoring the very first goal on the road to Russia in a 4-1 victory at home to Mongolia.

There are 31 places up for grabs, joining hosts Russia.

  

EUROPE:

13 places

• European qualifying home page

Qualifying for 2018 sees seven groups of six nations and two groups of five. 

Russia...

New Zealand to benefit from World Cup expansion - Andy Martins

New Zealand
New Zealand have a better chance of making the World Cup finals with the new format.

An expanded World Cup could have huge benefits for soccer in New Zealand, NZ Football chief executive Andy Martin claims.

The sport's governing body, FIFA, has announced its decision to increase the number of teams in the World Cup from 32 to 48 from 2026.

Details on how the 16 additional places will be allocated have yet to be finalised, but Martin says it appears Oceania will receive at least one.

"We don't know the detail, and that'll come out over the next three or four months," Martin said...

New Zealand and New Caledonia play out goalless draw

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New Zealand are in pole position to reach the Oceania World Cup qualifying playoff after drawing 0-0 against New Caledonia on Tuesday.

The All Whites had already beaten their opponents 2-0 in the reverse fixture in Auckland on Saturday, and ensured they preserved that advantage by taking a point in Kone.

New Caledonia had applied most of the pressure, but their hopes were dented when captain Bertrand Kai was dismissed 15 minutes from time for a headbutt on Ryan Thomas after reacting to a tackle...

ESPN FC  By ESPN staff

Solomon Islands claim late win over Tahiti in World Cup qualifying

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TahitiTahiti
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Solomon Islands beat Tahiti in their World Cup qualifier thanks to a last-gasp goal from James Naka.

Naka scored in the 92nd minute to secure the win and draw level with Tahiti at the top of in Group B.

Tahiti had beaten Solomon Islands 1-0 at home last week.