5 Biggest Nations to Miss Out on World Cup 2018
The 2018 World Cup in Russia will be the 21st tournament since its inception in 1930. After three grueling years of fierce qualifying, the wait is over. All of soccer’s biggest international teams will once again be featured this year (well, most, but more on that later). Brazil, who have become a permanent fixture in the World Cup will be marking its 21st tournament, with Germany and Argentina marking their 19th and 17th appearances, respectively. These powerhouses of international football will be joined by Belgium, who averaged the most goals in the qualifying run, and Iceland who have become the smallest nation to ever qualify.
As per the disclaimer above, most powerhouses have qualified. Below, however, are 5 prominent nations who failed to reach the finals this year.
After an abysmal start in the qualifying rounds with losses to Mexico and Costa Rica, the US National Men’s Team (USMNT) replaced head coach Jorgen Klinsmann with Bruce Arena, in the hope that he would lead them to a second coming a-la 2002. After an impressive 4 game unbeaten start for Arena, hopes were high for the team. The USMNT, however, only managed to finish second from the bottom of their group. This will be the first time since 1986 that the USMNT have failed to qualify.
With an impressive win over Brazil to start their qualifying round, Chile looked a favorite to reach the finals. During the qualifying rounds, Chile had an uneven run, winning and losing 8 matches, and drawing 2. In the final match Chile needed to draw to secure a place in the playoffs. However, Brazil got their revenge by beating them 3-0, and Chile dropped from third to sixth place. After their failure to qualify, manager Juan Antonio Pizzi stepped down. Chile is the highest ranked FIFA nation to miss out this year.
Despite being the most successful African nation at the World Cup, and having won the African Cup of Nations in February of last year for the fifth time, Cameroon won’t be heading to the finals in Russia. Cameroon needed a win in the last game, but only managed a 1-1 draw against Nigeria, after having lost their away match in Nigeria 4-0. Lack of discipline and a very tough African qualifying round were partly to blame for their failure to qualify.
2. The Netherlands
Having failed to qualify for Euro 2016, the Dutch will again be missing out on a major tournament. Although their youth development system is renowned the world over, Sportskeeda reveal that the Dutch team still heavily relies on the old guard to lead them. Arjen Robben, Wesley Sneijder and Robin van Persie, all in the autumn of their careers, have not yet been replaced by a younger generation of players.
The biggest upset this year is the absence of Italy from the World Cup. Italy came second in their qualifying group, with 2010 world champions Spain topping the group. In the second round qualifying match, Italy lost to Sweden over two games, to miss out on playing in Russia. This was a huge blow for the country, as Italy is one of the World Cup’s most successful teams, with four trophies to their name. Ladbrokes reported on how Italy won the 2006 World Cup on penalties, 12 years after becoming the only national team to lose a World Cup final on penalties in 1994. 2018 will be the first World Cup that they will miss since 1958.
It is said that there is more to learn from failure than success, and hopefully this holds true for the five who so spectacularly failed to qualify for this year’s World Cup. All are powerhouses in their respective regions, however, they must now humble themselves and analyze their weaknesses. The USMNT must fix its inconsistent player performance, Chile must sort out it’s team cohesion and chemistry, Cameroon needs to work on their team discipline especially with the younger players, the Netherlands needs to inject younger blood into their team, and Italy must organize their federation to sort out the mismanagement.
Written exclusively for soccersource.com