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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.

The draw for the main sections of qualifying takes place on Saturday, July 25, 2015.

EUROPE:

13 places

• European qualifying home page

Qualifying for 2018...

 By Tim Vickery

The Bolivian soap opera of Julio Baldivieso's coaching appointment

Julio Cesar Baldivieso's appointment as Bolivia national coach was a drama with many twists and turns.

Bolivia have hurriedly applied for a U.S. visa for their new coach Julio Cesar Baldivieso -- who, as a talented attacking midfielder, was part of their World Cup squad in the United States 21 years ago.

Bolivia have not been to a World Cup since, and would seem to be going about the task of making it to Russia 2018 in a strange fashion. The appointment of Baldivieso is the latest episode in a bizarre soap opera, a story with so many twists that it needs to be told episode by episode.

Episode 1: Earlier...

Judge throws out Nicolas Leoz request to halt extradition to U.S.

ESPN FC's Alejandro Moreno and Brian McBride discuss the controversial comments made by potential FIFA reformist, Francois Carrard, who called the game in the US, "an ethnic sport for girls in schools."
Without pointing the finger directly, the 79-year-old has claimed that in the past, one continental federation had tried to exert a dominance over the others.
Former South Korean FA president Chung Mong-joon has vowed to fix "corrupt" FIFA after formally announcing his bid to replace Sepp Blatter at the helm of world football's governing body.

ASUNCION, Paraguay -- A judge in Paraguay has thrown out a request that proceedings for extradition to the United States be dropped against Nicolas Leoz, the former head of the South American football confederation.

Judge Humberto Otazu told reporters on Thursday he had turned down the request from Ricardo Preda, the lawyer for Leoz.

Leoz, 86, is one of 14 people indicted by the U.S. Justice Department on charges of bribery, racketeering and money-laundering. The 86-year-old is being held under...

ESPN FC  By ESPN staff

Kaka aims to earn a spot on Brazil 2018 qualifying team

Orlando City captain Kaka reflects on being included in the latest Brazil squad and says he's looking forward to contributing on the pitch.
Orlando City head coach Adrian Heath heaps praise on Kaka for the impact he's had on the team and says that younger players all look up to him.
Kaka has expressed his joy at being a suprise inclusion in Dunga's latest Brazil squad
Orlando City head coach Adrian Heath admits he'd rather have Kaka in his side, but is delighted that the Brazilian has been recalled to play for Brazil.

Orlando City SC midfielder Kaka said his goal is to remain with the Selecao for 2018 World Cup qualifying after the two September friendlies in the United States.

The 2007 Ballon d'Or winner, who played on Brazil's 2002 World Cup winning squad, was a surprise inclusion on Dunga's 24-man squad for two important tests against Costa Rica and the United States. Brazil will face Costa Rica at Red Bull Arena on Sept. 5, before taking on the U.S. team at Gillette Stadium on Sept. 8.

"This year we have four...

Uruguay manager Oscar Tabarez calls three-match ban 'excessive'

Uruguay coach Oscar Tabarez said he felt his three-match Copa America ban was excessive.

Uruguay coach Oscar Tabarez said he feels his three-match ban from CONMEBOL for arguing during his country's quarterfinal Copa America loss to Chile was "excessive" and that the Uruguay Football Federation plans to appeal.

"I accept that it was not right for me to leave the bench and have words with someone on the Chile bench, but in no moment did I insult the referee," Tabarez said in an interview on Friday on his federation's website. "The referee and the coaches know that."

CONMEBOL eventually...