Eight top teams that failed to qualify for Qatar World Cup

Even before the first kick of the ball at the Qatar 2022 World Cup, fans who have not been following the tournament qualifiers will be in for a shock: Current European champions and four-time World Cup winners Italy will not be among the participants.

While its failure to qualify has caused the side some embarrassment, it is not the only big name missing from the Qatar 2022 roster.

Some other big teams from Europe, South America and Africa will also watch the tournament from home.

Here is a look at some of those sides who will not be on the plane to Qatar in November:

Italy

Ranking: 6

Best show at World Cup: Winners (1934, 1938, 1982 and 2006)

Italy missed out on securing a spot after a 92nd-minute loss to North Macedonia in their playoff semifinal in March. The fact that they were in the playoffs was surprising as well, given their Euro 2020 triumph last year and a string of good results in the qualifying rounds preceding the tournament.

In the next five matches, however, they won just once and were held to four draws. A second-place finish behind Switzerland took them to the playoffs where they failed to score and found themselves missing out on the World Cup for the second consecutive time.

Italy failed to qualify for a world cup for the second time running [Guglielmo Mangiapane/Reuters]

Colombia

Ranking: 17

Best show at World Cup: Quarter-finals (2014)

Boasting a former World Cup Golden Boot winner, James Rodriguez, and impressive performances at the last two editions of the tournament, Colombia were one of the favourites to secure a spot at Qatar 2022.

The South American side finished sixth in the CONMEBOL qualifiers, a point behind Peru who took the playoff spot after the top four teams earned automatic qualification.

Rodriguez, who played club football in Qatar for one year, shared his disappointment and said he was “in deep pain” in a long social media post after his team failed to qualify.

Sweden

Ranking: 20

Best show at World Cup: Runners-up (1958)

Sweden have been part of 12 of the 21 world cups. The country hosted the tournament in 1958 when the team recorded its best result by reaching the final where it lost a high-scoring match again Brazil.

The 2018 quarter-finalists’ journey to Qatar was derailed when they lost three of their six matches in the second leg of qualifiers last year. They ended up second in their group behind Spain and were pitted against Poland in the playoffs.

The playoff tie was held in Poland and the home team took full advantage of the support by winning 2-0 and ending the youthful Swedish side’s dreams of making it to Qatar.

Chile

Ranking: 29

Best show at World Cup: Third place (1962)

Chile have been present at the World Cup since the first edition in 1930. They hosted the tournament in 1962 and finished third.

In recent editions (1998, 2010 and 2014), Chile reached the round-of-16 stage. Those performances came with players like Arturo Vidal, Gary Medel and Alexis Sanchez. With the waning form of these players, Chile have it difficult to get favourable results.

They won only one of their last four qualification matches for Qatar 2022. Chile then sought to have Ecuador disqualified by arguing that Ecuador’s Byron Castillo was Colombian and ineligible to represent Ecuador.

FIFA, however, declared that the player held permanent Ecuadorian nationality and was eligible to represent the country in accordance with the rules.

chile
Chile’s Alexis Sanchez looks dejected after being eliminated [Marcelo Hernandez/Reuters]

Nigeria

Ranking: 31

Best show at World Cup: Round of 16 (1994, 1998, 2014)

Nigeria made its debut at the World Cup in 1994 and became an instant hit with the fans due to their attacking style of play and entertaining goal celebrations.

The Super Eagles topped their group but got knocked out of the tournament in the round of 16 after a stunning comeback by Italy led by Roberto Baggio.

Since then, the Super Eagles have only missed out on the 2006 tournament before making another comeback when the World Cup was played in South Africa four years later.

This time around, Nigeria’s dreams of playing in front of a large expat Nigerian population were dashed when they drew both their playoff legs against Ghana. The second leg of the tie saw Ghana qualify for Qatar on the basis of an away goal.

nigeria football fans
Nigeria’s dreams of playing in front of a large expat Nigerian population were dashed when they drew both their playoff legs against Ghana [Afolabi Sotunde/Reuters]

Russia

Ranking: 35

Best show at World Cup: Fourth (1966 as Soviet Union), quarter-finals (2018)

The only politically forced expulsion from the 2022 World Cup is Russia. FIFA announced the team’s expulsion from all competitions following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine earlier this year.

Russia was one of the favourites to qualify from Europe and build on its run at the 2018 edition where it reached the quarter-finals. Russia filed an appeal against the ban in the Court of Arbitration of Sport but later withdrew it.

The team’s history at the World Cup is split into two. First as the Soviet Union until the 1990 tournament. Later, Russia qualified for three world cups until 2014, before going on to host the 2018 edition where they got knocked out on penalties.

Egypt

Ranking: 40

Best show at World Cup: Group stage (1934, 1990, 2018)

With a World Cup taking place in the Middle East, Mohamed Salah leading the team and a big expat population in Qatar, Egypt would have been relishing their chances of qualifying for the 2022 event.

However, their biggest star Salah missed his penalty along with two others when Egypt drew against Senegal in the playoff.

Egypt have failed to go past the group stage in all three world cups they have been a part of. The 2018 edition saw a disappointing end as Salah was not fully fit due to a shoulder injury.

egypt
Egypt’s Mohamed Salah at the end of the team’s qualifying campaign [Amr Abdallah Dalsh/Reuters]

Algeria

Ranking: 37

Best show at World Cup: Round of 16 (2014)

It was one of the most dramatic finishes of the World Cup qualifiers, and one that stunned the world.

Algeria were on the verge of making it to Qatar 2022 after scoring a late extra-time winner over Cameroon in their playoff tie.

However, Karl Toko Ekambi scored seconds before the final whistle and booked his side’s berth on the basis of away goals.

Algeria’s coach Djamel Belmadi was left stunned and inconsolable while Cameroon celebrated their return to the tournament.

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