World Cup hosts Russian Federation held by Iran in friendly

Argentina's hopes are hanging by a thread... but who will book their place at Russia next year

As the World Cup 2018 qualifying stage draws to a close, there will be eight European countries looking forward to a play-off for the last four spots at the table in Russian Federation next summer.

While World Cup qualification is a big deal for most nations, the Panamanian President has given the country the day off work and school to celebrate their achievement. Thus, Russian football players will not play against any of the listed teams at the group stage.

Germany, England, Spain, Poland, Iceland, Serbia, Portugal and France took the remaining automatic places on offer to European nations after each topping their respective group.

The story of the night, however, was Panama's historic victory over Costa Rica which sealed their place in a first-ever World Cup at the expense of the United States, who lost 2-1 to Trinidad and Tobago. Teams from England, Brazil, Iran, Japan, Mexico, Belgium, South Korea, Saudi Arabia and Germany have already qualified, with Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland still hoping to earn a place.

Only Brazil has so far qualified, with Uruguay, Chile, Colombia and Peru all ahead of Argentina.

In Africa, there are still three places up for grabs as the third and final round of qualifying enters the last two group games.

More news: Brightstar marks World Mental Health Awareness Day

Iran and Russia national soccer teams drew 1-1 in a friendly match in Kazan, Russia, on Tuesday.

The shootouts are set to feature the eight best runners-up from the nine groups.

The current standings and remaining fixtures are available here.

The World Cup finals run from June 14 to July 15 in 12 venues spread across 11 cities including Moscow, St Petersburg and Sochi.

The draw for the play-off takes place in Zurich on the 17th of October and we will have live coverage here at AS.

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