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The qualification process for the 2018 World Cup is nearing its conclusion, with 23 nations assured of their places in Russia. Familiar names such as Germany, Brazil, France and Argentina will be there and joining them will be a few surprises – the likes of Iceland, Panama and Iran.
But which teams have really punched above their weight and deserve most credit for reaching the finals?
Nigeria: Nigeria became the first African side to reach Russia after beating Zambia 1-0 in their penultimate qualifier. The Super Eagles have now missed just one tournament – Germany 2006 – since making their World Cup debut in 1994.
Russia: The hosts qualified when they won the chance to host the competition back in Dec 2010. And judging by their Fifa points rankings, and current form, this is the only reason they’re playing at a World Cup. They probably wouldn’t have qualified otherwise.
Japan: A tight three-way battle in Asia Group B ended with Japan topping the group, one point ahead of Saudi Arabia.
Brazil: Brazil qualified comfortably after topping their table with 41 points having lost just one game.
Egypt: Egypt qualified with a game to play after Mohamed Salah scored a late, late winner against Congo to end a near 30-year wait for Africa’s most successful team.
Mexico: Mexico qualified for Russia as North and central America and Caribbean group winners.
Iran: Iran were the first Asian team to qualify – way back in June with a 2-0 win over Uzbekistan.
South Korea: South Korea came second in Group A, behind Iran, to secure their ninth consecutive appearance at a World Cup.
France: France secured their ticket to the World Cup finals after Didier Descamps’s side unconvincingly beat Belarus in the final game of their qualification campaign in Paris.
England: England qualified for Russia following an unbeaten – though largely uninspiring – qualifying campaign in which they won eight games and drew twice.
Saudi Arabia: Saudi Arabia qualified after edging out Australia (who must now go into a play-off) on goal difference.
Germany: Holders Germany qualified with 30 points having won all 10 of their games in Group C.
Colombia: Took the fourth and final automatic qualification spot in the South American group.
Spain: Spain, after suffering an early exit back in 2014, raced through Group G, winning nine of their 10 matches.
Argentina: Argentina faced the dire possibility of missing out on a World Cup for the first time since 1970, but Lionel Messi delivered when it matters most with three goals in a 3-1 win over Ecuador to book their spot.
Poland: Poland qualified with 25 points having dropped points in just two games.
Serbia: Serbia finished top of their group with 19 points, leapfrogging Wales at the last.
Belgium: Belgium were the first European team to qualify with 22 points from eight games.
Portugal: European champions Portugal beat Switzerland 2-0 in Lisbon to progress to the World Cup finals as winners of Group B.
Panama: Roman Torres was the hero in a 2-1 home victory against Costa Rica in Panama City, with his 88th-minute winner jumping Los Canaleros from fifth up to the third automatic qualifying spot in the final round of Concacaf qualification.
Costa Rica: Reached their fourth World Cup finals with a game remaining from their Concacaf qualification group.
Uruguay: Uruguay looked certain for qualification during much of their campaign but it took a final-round victory over Bolivia to make absolute certain.
Iceland: Iceland got the job done and qualified for their first ever World Cup by beating Kosovo – who have earned just one point – 2-0 in their final match of the group.