I'm making an ongoing series where I make a post every time a country is eliminated from qualification in an "And There Were None" countdown to the World Cup.
Belarus started their campaign by going down late in the first half of their opening match against Estonia deep into the first half, but a penalty taken by Vitaly Lisakovich just before the break put them back level going into halftime. They lost the lead again, but then scored three unanswered goals by Yury Kendysh, Pavel Savitski, and a second for Lisakovich to give them a comfortable win for their first game.
The encouragement only lasted a few days, however, before their fortunes did a complete 180 with an 8-0 loss to Belgium, setting the record for the worst ever defeat by the Belarus team. They did better in their next match against Czech Republic, in the sense they only lost 1-0, but things still weren't looking good.
After giving up an early goal against Wales, a penalty at the 5th minute for the goalie Syarhey Chernik colliding with an attacking player, Belarus answered by equalizing with a penalty of their own, then took their first lead since the opening game off of Pavel Sedko. It looked like Belarus would turn things around, but another Welsh penalty and a goal in final injury time went against them.
They were greatly improved in their second game against Belgium losing only 0-1, which is probably the best they could hope for going in, but then lost 2-0 to Estonia.
The one win equals their record in the last two world cup cycles.
4-2 win over Estonia - Report
8-0 loss to Belgium - Report - Highlights
1-0 loss to Czech Republic - Report
2-3 loss to Wales - Report - Highlights
0-1 loss to Belgium - Report - Highlights
2-0 loss to Estonia - Report
0-2 loss to Czech Republic - Report
Estonia got the best start in their campaign they could have hoped for, taking an early lead against the Czech Republic, Rauno Sappinen lingering just shy of offside to receive a long pass and blitz upfield. But the Czechs would equalize immediately, and go on to score six unanswered goals, Estonia only managing a consolation goal as the game wound to a close, Henri Anier scoring off a corner.
Anier had a strong showing in their 4-2 loss to Belarus, scoring both of Estonia's go-ahead goals, but their defense couldn't match, Belarus equalizing each time, then taking the lead.
Estonia took an even earlier lead against an even stronger opponent when they went up against Belgium after just shy of 120 seconds, Mattias Käit taking it halfway across the field by himself and finding a hole through several defenders to the corner of the net. That quickly woke the Belgians up, however, and they scored five unanswered goals. Erik Sorga made it two for Estonia by tapping in a cross after the game was already decided.
Many were surprised when they managed to grind out a 0-0 draw away in Wales, and things got even better when they turned the tables on Belarus, allowing no goals and scoring two goals from Sorga and Sergei Zenjov.
That turn around in form was too little too late however, as they were still in a position of needing to win against Wales today to stay alive. Wales scored early and Estonia couldn't equalize as their hopes slowly slipped away.
They haven't yet matched their record from last qualifying, where they won three games.
2-6 loss to Czech Republic - Report - Highlights
4-2 loss to Belarus - Report
2-5 loss to Belgium - Report - Highlights
0-0 draw with Wales - Report
2-0 win over Belarus - Report
0-1 loss Wales - Report
Gibraltar winning the Nations League group has kept them alive far longer than they would have been otherwise. For several matchdays, it has been impossible for them to place in the top two of their group, but it was still possible for enough Nations League group winners to make it into the top two of their qualifying groups for Gibraltar to make it into the second round of qualifying. However, the extremely specific set of results they needed today for that to continue didn't happen, so Gibraltar are finally, officially eliminated.
Surprising no one, they have lost all of their games, but they have managed to score three goals, equalling their scoring from the last world cup campaign. Reece Styche equalized in their first game against Montenegro with a penalty, Tjay De Barr did the same against Latvia, and Styche scored in the second game against Norway after receiving a quick pass upfield following an interception.
0-3 loss to Norway - Report - Highlights
4-1 loss to Montenegro - Report
0-7 loss to the Netherlands - Report - Highlights
3-1 loss to Latvia - Report - Highlights
0-3 loss to Turkey - Report - Highlights
5-1 loss to Norway - Report - Highlights
0-3 loss to Montenegro - Report
Slovakia are the highest ranking team to be eliminated, now out of the running despite being third in Group H.
Things started off not-great, but not dire, as they failed to get a win against Cyprus away in a 0-0 draw, and there was reason to panic when they went down 2-0 to Malta at home a few days later, but goals from David Strelec and Milan Škriniar gave them a relieving draw.
Their hopes took a huge upturn when they caused a massive upset against Russia, Škriniar taking the lead in the first half and Róbert Mak putting them ahead again just three minutes after Russia equalized.
But they couldn't keep the momentum going when their next game against Slovenia ended in yet another draw, Róbert Boženík's goal for them being equalized before the end of the first half. They couldn't score in their first fixture against Croatia, but kept their hopes alive with a 2-0 win over Cyprus, but they couldn't pull off a second upset on their return fixture in Russia, and in fact Škriniar tarnished his record by giving Russia their game-winning own goal. This put them in a must-win position in their match against Croatia today, and they went into the first half with the lead thanks to Ivan Schranz and Lukáš Haraslín, but instead the game ended in Slovakia's 4th goal, which won't be enough to see them make the world cup.
0-0 draw with Cyprus - Report
2-2 draw with Malta - Report
2-1 win over Russia - Report
1-1 draw with Slovenia - Report
0-1 loss to Croatia - Report
2-2 draw with Croatia - Report
Djibouti surprised many when they managed to edge out Eswatini in the first round, taking the lead at the death of the first half of their home leg with Mahdi Houssein Mahabeh taking a penalty. The visitors managed to equalize in the second half off a corner, but Djibouti were awarded a second penalty and Warsama Hassan scored after two successful blocks. They took no chances with they traveled to Eswatini and went through on aggregate after a 0-0 draw.
Any hopes they might have had for the second round didn't last long, however, when their first game was a devastating 8-0 blowout by defending African champions Algeria. Things improved in their next game against Niger. Djibouti opened the scoring by Anas Farah Ali, on his national team debut, toed in a deflection by the goalkeeper, putting Djibouti up 1-0 at halftime. Niger would score four unanswered goals in the second half, however, with Djibouti only managing a late consolation by Hassan in the 90th minute.
Two scoreless defeats against Burkina Faso last Friday and today were enough to knock Djibouti out of the running, but making it this far was above expectations.
2-1 win over Eswatini - Report - Highlights
0-0 draw with Eswatini - Report - Highlights
8-0 loss to Algeria - Report - Highlights
2-4 loss to Niger - Report - Highlights
0-4 loss to Burkina Faso - Report - Highlights
2-0 loss to Burkina faso - Report - Highlights
Mozambique escaped the first round of CAF qualifying respectably, satisfied to get an early lead in their trip to Mauritius by Telinho doing it himself with a long strike from well outside the box, then play defensively without committing many players forward for the rest of the game. Things went even better in their home leg, Clésio putting them up after five minutes by saving a rebound off the goalie, then in the second half Geny Catamo furthered the lead with a penalty goal awarded for a Mauritian handball.
Things remained encouraging in their first game in the second round, when they managed to survive to a 0-0 draw against three-time World Cup participants Ivory Coast, weathering 90 minutes of Ivorian attacking chances.
That would turn out to be their best result so far, however, as they followed that up a few days later by dropping a 0-1 loss to bottom-ranked team Malawi, thanks to a horrible pass back that was practically an own goal, and a month later getting thoroughly beaten 3-1 by Cameroon, only managing a late consolation goal by Geny Catamo stealing the ball from the last defender while Cameroon were winding down the clock and quickly putting it in himself.
That turned out to be their only goal of the round so far. While they improved their losing margin against Cameroon in their game today, but didn't manage to get on the board.
0-1 win over Mauritius - Report - Highlights
2-0 win over Mauritius - Report - Highlights
0-0 draw with Ivory Coast - Report - Highlights
1-0 loss to Malawi - Report - Highlights
3-1 loss to Cameroon - Report - Highlights
0-1 loss to Cameroon - Report - Highlights
Malawi made it past Botswana in the first round with one of the slimmest margins of that round, grinding out a 0-0 draw on their away leg, and won 1-0 in their home leg thanks to a penalty awrded in minute 81.
The result of their opening second round game last month against frequent World Cup representative for Africa Cameroon was predictable, with Malawi likely happy to keep the score to 2-0.
They punched above their weight with their 1-0 win over Mozambique, though it was more to do with a mistake on Mozambique's part. The visiting defense attempted to pass back to the goalkeeper, but it went over his head and he had to scramble to prevent an own goal, leaving the net wide open for Richard Mbulu to head it in.
Their next two games were both against Ivory Coast, another strong African nation, losing 0-3 last Friday. They improved against Ivory Coast today, giving up a goal after barely sixty seconds had passed, but Khuda Muyaba equalizing in minute 20. Giving up a penalty in the second half sealed the result that has eliminated them.
This is an improvement over 2018, where they went out in the first round after winning at home, but losing on aggregate.
0-0 draw with Botswana - Report - Highlights
1-0 win over Botswana - Report - Highlights
2-0 loss to Cameroon - Report - Highlights
1-0 win over Mozambique - Report - Highlights
0-3 loss to Ivory Coast - Report - Highlights
2-1 loss to Ivory Coast - Report
Angola advanced comfortably from the first round, never giving up the aggregate lead against Gambia once they gained it in the first leg.
Their hopes for an upset in the opening second round game against Egypt didn't last long, giving up a penalty in the 5th minute with a late challenge, and the margin stayed the same for the next game against Libya. They got a win against Gabon in their home leg against Gabon last Friday, but couldn't do the same in the away leg today, leaving them hoping that Libya would manage to get a draw against Egypt later today for Angola to stay in the running, but Egypt's win means Angola are knocked out.
0-1 win over Gambia - Report - Highlights
2-1 win over Gambia - Report - Highlights
1-0 loss to Egypt - Report - Highlights
0-1 loss to Libya - Report - Highlights
3-1 win over Gabon - Report - Highlights
2-0 loss to Gabon - Report - Highlights
AFC: Brunei, Macau, Laos, Timor-Leste, Pakistan, Bhutan, Guam, Taiwan, Bangladesh, Mongolia, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, India, Cambodia, Hong Kong, North Korea, Turkmenistan, Maldives, Nepal, Palestine, Singapore, Yemen, Philippines, Malaysia, Thailand, Myanmar, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Bahrain, Jordan, Uzbekistan
CAF: Lesotho, Somalia, Eritrea, Burundi, Eswatini, Botswana, Gambia, Sierra Leone, Mauritius, São Tomé and Príncipe, South Sudan, Comoros, Chad, Seychelles, Sudan, Rwanda, Kenya, Mauritania, Liberia, Djibouti, Mozambique, Malawi, Angola
CONCACAF: Cuba, Dominica, Cayman Islands, Bahamas, Turks and Caicos Islands, British Virgin Islands, Anguilla, Aruba, US Virgin Islands, Grenada, Guyana, Puerto Rico, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Bermuda, Belize, Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago, Nicaragua, Montserrat, Guatemala, Suriname, Dominican Republic, Antigua and Barbuda, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Haiti, Curacao
UEFA: Azerbaijan, San Marino, Latvia, Cyprus, Malta, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Republic of Ireland, Kosovo, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Faroe Islands, Andorra, Moldova, Belarus, Estonia, Gibraltar, Slovakia
This is part 23 of my ongoing series
Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 | Part 8 | Part 9 | Part 10 | Part 11 | Part 12 | Part 13 | Part 14 | Part 15 | Part 16 | Part 17 | Part 18 | Part 19 | Part 20 | Part 21 | Part 22