Top 5 teams that failed to qualify for the 2018 FIFA World Cup
A long journey comes to an end this week. Some nations started their road to the 2018 World Cup back in March 2015. In total, over 200 teams took part of the qualifying process for 31 open spots at the tournament.
The tournament, taking place in Russia will be the first ever World Cup for Iceland and Panama. Meanwhile, a number of top teams will be missing the competition after failing to get through the qualifiers.
Here's a look at the 5 best teams that won't be at the 2018 World Cup in Russia:
There are two big sides in the CONCACAF region - Mexico and the USA. Both had begun to be ever-present in the World Cup since 1994. Basically, before the qualification has even begun, it has been clear who takes two of the region's places at the final tournament. But the USMNT(United States men's national soccer team) missed out this time.
USA won the CONCACAF Gold Cup for the 6th time this summer, beating Jamaica in the final 2-1, but they failed to replicate their form in the World Cup qualifiers. Called the Hexagonal, the final stage of qualifying in CONCACAF involves six of the best nations in the region playing in a 6-team group.
USMNT started the final stage in shocking fashion with losses to Mexico and Costa Rica. These were the final two games of Jurgen Klinsmann's reign. Bruce Arena, who led the side to the quarter-finals at the 2002 World Cup, was brought back and his second coming started well, but the ending was shocking.
Arena started with a 14-game unbeaten run, which is the best ever start by a USMNT head coach. However, after the Gold Cup success, the United States won only one of the last four qualifiers to finish second from bottom in the group, a point away from the TOP 3 that sealed automatic qualification to Russia.
The US last missed the World Cup in 1986. They still remain a powerhouse in the region, but lessons must be learned from this failure. Nothing is given in football, everything must be earned.