1. Georginio Wijnaldum Netherlands


    Amazingly, the Dutch, finalists in 2010 and bronze medallists in 2014, finished behind France and Sweden in qualifying and did not even make the play-offs.

    Beset by ill-fortune, managerial upheaval and a reliance on older, fading stars, the highs of just eight years ago now seem so very far away.

  2. Gianluigi Buffon Italy Sweden
    Getty Images


    Unlike Netherlands, Italy at least finished second in their group, behind one of the favourites to win the World Cup, Spain.

    However, a two-legged play-off against Sweden ended in disaster, Jakob Johansson’s deflected first-leg goal sending the Scandinavian nation to Russia, thus ending Gianluigi Buffon’s hopes of making a record-breaking sixth appearance at the finals.

  3. Alexis Sanchez Chile
    Getty Images


    It seemed harder for Chile to fail to qualify. Blessed with star power in the form of Alexis Sanchez and Arturo Vidal, the current holders of the Copa America finished sixth in the CONMEBOL qualifying league, behind Brazil, Uruguay, Argentina, Colombia and Peru.

    Their failure to take a single point from their two games against Paraguay and Bolivia sealed their fate.

  4. Edin Dzeko Bosnia and Herzegovina
    Getty Images

    Bosnia & Herzegovina

    The likes of Miralem Pjanic and Edin Dzeko could not inspire Bosnia to the World Cup, as they finished behind Belgium and Greece in qualifying.

    An embarrassing 3-2 defeat to Cyprus, in which Bosnia had taken a 2-0 lead, summed up their qualification; a promising prospect, but with potential ultimately unfulfilled.

  5. Thomas Partey of Ghana


    Ghana caught the attention of the world in 2010, as they threatened to become the very first African team ever to win the World Cup. In 2018, they won’t even play in it.

    A disastrous qualifying campaign saw them take just seven points from six games, and finish behind Egypt and Uganda. They won just once.

  6. Greek fans Greece


    Finishing second behind Belgium in an open group, Greece appeared well-set going into their two-legged play-off with Croatia.

    Instead, they were torn apart, losing 4-1 on aggregate – all the goals were scored in the first leg – to a Luka Modric-inspired team. Yet again, their wait to relive the glory days of 2004 goes on.

  7. Shane Long Republic of Ireland Denmark 14112017

    Republic of Ireland

    Something of a success story in the groups, Ireland beat Wales and Austria into second-place behind Serbia, but their hopes unravelled as they drew a Denmark side boasting the mercurial talents of Tottenham’s Christian Eriksen in the play-offs.

    The playmaker was in unbelievable form, scoring a hat-trick in the second leg to give the Danes a thumping 5-1 win in Dublin. The first leg in Copenhagen had ended scoreless!

  8. United States World Cup 2018 qualification


    The United States’ qualification hopes ended in complete and utter ignominy. In a tight qualifying group, the US finished fifth, ahead of only Trinidad and Tobago, who ultimately, ironically, hammered the final nail into the coffin, beating Bruce Arena’s men 2-1 in their do-or-die qualifier.

    Mexico’s 3-2 loss to Honduras, coupled with Panama’s 2-1 win over Costa Rica eliminated the US, who have since embarked on a detailed inquest.

  9. Gareth Bale Wales
    Getty Images


    There was no way for Wales to recapture the magic that took them to the Euro 2016 semi-finals in World Cup qualifying, as they finished third in their group, behind Serbia and Ireland.

    As a result, Real Madrid star Gareth Bale will miss the chance to shine on the world stage, after proving such a hit in France two years ago.

  10. Cameroon v Angola


    One of the most decorated teams in the history of African football, Cameroon endured a rocky qualification group, winning just once and drawing four times, as they finished behind Nigeria and Zambia.

    A 4-0 thumping at the hands of the Super Eagles only rubbed salt in a particularly raw wound.

  11. Fonsinho of Ivory Coast and Taddeo Lwanga of Uganda CHAN 2018

    Ivory Coast

    Perhaps unlucky to miss out, the Ivory Coast could not win their group, and were thus eliminated from contention.

    Finishing four points behind leaders Morocco, they won twice, drew twice and lost twice in an almost admirably inconsistent campaign.

  12. Filip Novak Czech Republic
    Getty Images

    Czech Republic

    Beaten to second-place – behind Germany – by Northern Ireland, the Czechs failed to defeat Azerbaijan at home, and, crucially, lost 2-0 in Belfast.

    They finished four points behind Michael O’Neill’s men, and it is not difficult to see where the points were lost.

  13. Omer Toprak Turkey


    Group I proved tight in World Cup qualification, with Turkey, Iceland, Ukraine and Croatia all battling to finish in the top two spots.

    Ultimately, Iceland won the group by two points from Croatia, with Ukraine and Turkey trailing behind in third and fourth, respectively. Nevertheless, a 3-0 defeat to the winners, at home, left a bitter taste, as did a 2-2 draw with Finland.

  14. Andrew Robertson Scotland 2018


    Unfortunate to be drawn with 'Auld Enemy' England, Scotland still managed to finish third in Group F, with Slovenia in second. Indeed, the Slovenian team did not even reach the play-offs, instead eliminated as worst runners-up.

    A 1-1 draw with Lithuania at Hampden Park prompted embarrassment, as did 3-0 thumpings in Slovakia and England.

  15. Ecuador – Venezuela Eliminatorias Sudamericanas 15112016


    An eighth-placed finish in CONMEBOL qualifying will have disappointed many in Ecuador, given the national team qualified for the 2014 World Cup.

    They lost 10 times during qualifying – only matched by bottom side Venezuela – and won just six.