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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...

Age Hareide named Denmark boss after Morten Olsen exit

Age Hareide has signed a two-year contract as Denmark boss.

Denmark have named former Malmo boss Age Hareide as the new coach of the national team following Morten Olsen's resignation

Former Norway international Hareide, 62, has signed a two-year contract with an option for two more years.

Hareide will begin his new job on March 1 in time to prepare for Denmark's 2018 World Cup qualifying campaign, which kicks off at home to Armenia on Sept. 4.

"We need to try to get to the World Cup," he told a televised news conference.

By ESPN Staff

Gordon Strachan to remain Scotland manager for World Cup qualifying

ESPN FC's former Scotland international Craig Burley sounds off on Scotland for celebrating a fourth-place finish in Euro 2016 qualifying.

Gordon Strachan will take charge of Scotland's World Cup qualifying campaign after signing a two-year extension as manager.

Strachan had taken time to consider his future after Scotland finished fourth in their European Championship group, behind Germany, Poland and play-off contenders Republic of Ireland.

But the vocal backing of an 11,000-strong travelling support in Scotland's final qualifier, a 6-0 win against Gibraltar, helped persuade Strachan to stay on.

A statement from the governing body...

 By PA Sport

UEFA denies that performance-enhancing drug use is on the increase

UEFA has moved to quash speculation that the use of performance-enhancing drugs is widespread in professional football.

European football's governing body UEFA has insisted the number of players taking performance-enhancing drugs is very low in response to allegations that its latest study reveals otherwise.

German television broadcasters ARD and WDR, alongside the Sunday Times, claim a study commissioned by UEFA fuels suspicions that drug-taking by football's top players is at a significant level.

High testosterone levels were reportedly found in urine samples of 7.7 percent of the 879 players tested by researchers,...

Kosovo set to gain entry into European competitions

Kosovo supporters cheer on the team during the March 2014 friendly against Haiti.

Kosovo can move closer to joining UEFA this week, with a place in 2018 World Cup qualifying possibly in play.

Membership of Europe's football governing body will allow the former Serbian enclave's national team and clubs to start playing in continental competitions.

That is the first step required before gaining FIFA membership, part of Kosovo's wider push for international recognition since declaring independence from Serbia in 2008.

UEFA's executive committee can rule the Balkan republic eligible...