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Five Most Disappointing Teams in World Cup Qualifiers So Far

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With only two matches remaining in the World Cup qualifiers for each squad, time is running out for a few teams that are on the outside looking in, reports America based Sports Daily.

While most teams have performed at or above expectations, a few have underperformed on the pitch, and have either been eliminated or are fighting for a final qualifying spot in their group. Let’s take a closer look at those teams.

ARGENTINA

While there has been some recent turmoil in their organizational structure, no one can question the talent available to the Albiceleste. Led by superstar Lionel Messi, this is a squad that no one would’ve predicted to be in danger of missing a trip to the World Cup for the first time since 1970. Yet with two games remaining in CONMEBOL group play, Argentina finds itself in fifth place, a point ahead of Chile.

With their final two matches against Peru and Ecuador, conventional wisdom would see Argentina punch their ticket to Russia. Of course, that same wisdom wouldn’t have predicted last-place Venezuela to tie Argentina 1-1 at Estadio Monumental in their most recent match.

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THE NETHERLANDS

With only two games remaining in group play, the Orangemen currently find themselves out of a World Cup spot.

Unhappy with previous manager Danny Blind’s start to the World Cup qualifiers, he was replaced by 69-year-old Dick Advocaat, who had managed the Dutch team three times previously and was seen largely as a caretaker.

Recent results have made him appear as more of an undertaker, with the Orangemen on the verge of elimination.

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With the team itself captained by Arjen Robben, and comprised of mostly European international players, one would think the Dutch FA has buyers’ remorse in appointing Advocaat to the managerial post.

Expect Advocaat to be removed immediately as manager after the final group match, given how badly the team has under performed.

CHILE

A team ranked in the top ten of the FIFA World Rankings should’ve already qualified for the World Cup, but Chile has struggled in group play.

With two games remaining, Chile finds itself needing at least four and possibly six points in order to advance beyond the group. But in the CONMEBOL group, every point is difficult and they have an uphill battle to advance to Russia.

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Their underperformance is a bit surprising, given their recent successes in tournaments against the same teams.

While the squad is largely the same, there seems to be some dissension among the players. After the 1-0 loss against second-to-last-place Bolivia, star forward Alexis Sanchez ripped his critics (including reporters) on social media and indicated that the negativity was affecting his level of play.

A few days prior to the Sanchez comments, midfielder Arturo Vidal also lashed out at the media following a 3-0 loss at home to Paraguay.

Vidal also announced that he will retire from international play after the current World Cup competition is over for Chile. Based upon where Chile is in the current group stage, that figures to be next month.

 

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CHINA

The last decade has seen China infuse hundreds of millions of dollars into their soccer program in order to establish a foothold on the world stage.

After the creation of their professional football league, they sought out the best managers available to train their players professionally.

Top-flight managers in the China Super League include Luiz Felipe Scolari, Manuel Pellegrini, Andre Villas-Boa and Sven-Goren Eriksson.

They then proceeded to purchase players whom they felt could improve the play of their home-grown players, often paying exorbitant amounts of cash.

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While many of these players may have seemed past their prime in terms of ability, the hope was that they would pass along their knowledge of the game to their Chinese teammates and thus improve their play.

The results in the Chinese Super League were lacking, and their home-grown players failed to show improvement on the world stage. The Chinese squad sits in fifth place in the AFC group, behind teams such as Syria and Uzbekistan, and that’s about as disappointing as it gets.

AUSTRIA

Barely a year ago, Das Team was ranked tenth in the FIFA World Rankings. Manager Marcel Koller, appointed to the position in 2011, was considered somewhat of a genius for his ability to cobble together such a successful team without any world-renowned players.

Fast-forward to 2017, and Austria finds itself eliminated from advancing to World Cup competition after only eight games in a relatively weak group.

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With the majority of their roster playing across the border in the Bundesliga, Austria certainly seemed to possess the talent to have been more successful within their group.

But after two more matches in October, Das Team’s players will be returning to their clubs, and one would think that Koller will be returning to his native Switzerland in search of his next job assignment.

 

Kunle Solaja is the author of landmark books on sports and journalism as well as being a multiple award-winning journalist and editor of long standing. He is easily Nigeria’s foremost soccer diarist and Africa's most capped FIFA World Cup journalist, having attended all FIFA World Cup finals from Italia ’90 to Qatar 2022. He was honoured at the Qatar 2022 World Cup by FIFA and AIPS.

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Exclusive: Rohr names his squad to face Super Eagles in World Cup qualifiers

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Gernot Rohr, Benin Repuyblic coach

Former Nigeria manager now working for the opposition, Gernot Rohr has named his Benin Republic team to face Super Eagles on 10th June.

In the squad are 19 professionals playing at various clubs in Europe and six home based players drawn from local league.

Rohr said at a press conference that he was confident the boys will beat the Super Eagles. The team is expected to leave Cotonou for Abidjan on Monday and train on the same pitch where they will face the Super Eagles.

The Super Eagles played some of their matches at the Félix Houphouët-Boigny Stadium during the Africa Cup of Nations earlier this year.

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Why serial violators, Equatorial Guinea forfeit World Cup qualifiers

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Fire Brand Afcon Sharp Shooter, Nsue Set Equatorial Guinea FA Ablaze -

Equatorial Guinea have had to forfeit their first two 2026 World Cup qualifiers after a FIFA Disciplinary Committee ruled that former Spain junior international Emilio Nsue was ineligible to play in both matches.

The 34-year-old scored the winning goal in both of those games, against Namibia and Liberia, last November.

Nsue, who finished as the leading scorer at the Africa Cup of Nations finals in Cote d’Ivoire earlier this year, has also been banned for six months from international football, FIFA confirmed in a statement on Friday, though they did not shed light on the specific reasons for his ineligibility.

It is a repeat case after Equatorial Guinea also had to forfeit two matches in the 2014 World Cup qualifiers for fielding Nsue. No reason for his ineligibility was given by FIFA on that occasion either

But curiously, he did play in the qualifiers for the 2018 and 2022 World Cup finals.

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FIFA did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.

Equatorial Guinea beat both Liberia and Namibia 1-0 in their first two qualifiers for 2026, but those will now be awarded as 3-0 losses.

“After considering all elements brought before it, the FIFA Disciplinary Committee was comfortably satisfied that the player was ineligible and consequently decided to declare the matches of the FIFA World Cup 2026 preliminary competition in which the player was fielded lost by forfeit by Equatorial Guinea,” the FIFA statement said.

Nsue scored five goals at the recent Cup of Nations to take home the Golden Boot but missed a vital penalty in the round of 16 loss to Guinea.

Equatorial Guinea will travel to Tunisia for their next qualifier on June 5, before they host Malawi five days later.

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They are six points behind leaders Tunisia and Namibia in the six-team pool with only the top side in the group gaining automatic qualification for the finals in the United States, Mexico and Canada.

-Reuters

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African champions Cote d’Ivoire unleash new blood for World Cup qualifiers

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Cote d’Ivoire coach Emerse Faé has overhauled his squad for next month’s crucial 2026 World Cup qualifiers against Gabon and Kenya, handing call-ups to five new faces including a trio of players from Ligue 1.

The Elephants, who top Group F alongside Gabon on six points, host the Panthers in Korhogo on 7 June before an away trip to Nairobi to take on the Harambee Stars four days later.

With qualification for the finals in the USA, Canada and Mexico well-poised, Faé has taken the opportunity to inject fresh blood into his ranks following the side’s TotalEnergies CAF Africa Cup of Nations triumph in February.

Nice striker Evann Guessand, Le Havre left-back Christopher Operi and Lorient frontman Mohamed Bamba have all earned their first senior call-ups as part of Faé’s revamp.

Guessand and Bamba both featured for France at youth level, while Bamba’s former Elephants Under-23 teammate Mohamed Diomande of Rangers is another new addition after opting to represent Cote d’Ivoire over Ghana.

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Middlesbrough striker Emmanuel Latte Lath completes the influx of new faces as Faé looks to build for the future while keeping one eye on this year’s qualifiers.

While the quintet of uncapped players grabbed the headlines, there were also recalls for the likes of Rennes midfielder Guela Doue, who scored a crucial goal against Uruguay in March.

However, several big names from February’s  AFCON triumph have missed out, including captain Serge Aurier and fellow defender Eric Bailly due to a lack of game time at club level.

They are joined by Ibrahim Sangare, Karim Konate, Christian Kouame and Jean Krasso in being omitted, while there is no place in the 26-man squad for Wilfried Zaha despite Faé holding talks with the Galatasaray winger about a potential return.

Star names such as Franck Kessie, Sebastien Haller, Evan N’Dicka, Seko Fofana and Yahi Fofana have all been retained as the spine of Faé’s squad for the crucial double-header.

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The Elephants currently top Group F but know maximum points against Gabon and Kenya could prove crucial in their bid to secure one of the section’s prized spots in North America in two years’ time.

Full squad


Goalkeepers : Yahia Fofana (Angers), Badra Ali (Sekhukhune), Mohamed Koné (Dunkirk)

Defenders : Willy Boly (Nottingham), Christopher Operi (Havre), Ousmane Diomande (Sporting), Odilon Kossounou (Leverkusen), Evan Ndicka (Roma), Ghislain Konan (Al-Fayha), Guela Doue (Rennes), Wilfried Singo (Monaco ), Emmanuel Agbadou (Reims)

Midfielders : Mohamed Diomande (Rangers), Franck Kessie (Al-Ahli), Jean Michael Seri (Hull), Seko Fofana (Al Ettifaq), Lazare Amani (Union SG), Habib Traore (Napoli)

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Forwards : Mohamed Bamba (Lorient), Sebastien Haller (Dortmund), Evan Guessand (Nice), Oumar Diakite (Reims), Jeremie Boga (Nice), Nicolas Pepe (Trabzonspor), Simon Adingra (Brighton), Emmanuel Latte Lath (Middlesbrough)

-CAF

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