The World Cup in Brazil approached, and aside from the host nation, we have nine more nations that have clinched their spot in the 2014 tournament: Japan, Australia, Iran and South Korea from the Asian qualifiers; Netherlands and Italy from Europe; Argentina from South America; and the USA & Costa Rica from the North American group.
While things are pretty much wrapped up in Asia (Jordan will play in the play-offs against a South American team), there are two matches left in the North & South American groups, while in Europe some teams are already down to only one match.
Brazil – Obviously, being the hosts, they had to be there. Brazil did quite badly in friendly matches up until the Confederation Cup, which they won, and now putting them as favorites for the tournament. It’ll be their 20th appearance in the competition, which they’ve won five times in the past.
Japan – The first nation to qualify from the groups, finishing their qualifying group on top, ahead of Australia, Jordan, Oman and Iraq, losing only once in 8 matches. It’ll be their fifth World Cup, all of their appearances coming consecutively (began in 1998).
Australia – Finished four points behind Japan in Group B of the Asian qualifying zone, earning their place after a 1-0 win over Iraq this week. It’ll be their 4th World Cup appearance, making the last three tournaments.
Iran – Slightly surprisingly finished on top of their qualifying group, ahead of South Korea, Uzbekistan, Qatar and Lebanon. They clinched their place after beating South Korea 1-0, which meant success for both sides. It’ll be Iran’s 4th World Cup and first since the 2006 tournament.
South Korea – Lost to Iran and still made it in from an easy group, finishing second. It’ll be the 9th World Cup South Korea play in, making the last 8 tournaments, beginning with Mexico ’86.
Netherlands – The first of the European teams making it in to the World Cup from this qualifying campaign, clinching the top spot in their group, leaving Hungary, Turkey, Romania, Estonia and Andorra behind. It’ll be the 10th appearance for the Dutch in the tournament, not missing it since the 2002 edition.
Italy – The four-time World Champions clinched the top spot in their group with a win over the Czech Republic, leaving Denmark, Armenia, Bulgaria and Malta behind. It’ll be the 18th World Cup for Italy, who haven’t missed a tournament since 1958.
United States – Clinched their place in Brazil thanks to a 2-0 win over Mexico, and are currently on top of the group that includes Costa Rica, Honduras, Mexico, Panama and Jamaica. It’ll be their 10th World Cup, which they haven’t missed since 1986.
Costa Rica – Only drew 1-1 with Jamaica, but still make it in to the World Cup for the 4th time and the first since the 2006 tournament.
Argentina – Their 5-2 win in Paraguay made it certain they’ll be in Brazil, currently leading the South American group with only two matches left to play. It’ll be their 16th appearance in the tournament, which they have won twice. The last time Argentina missed out on a world cup was 1970.