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FIFA World Cup: 5 teams you didn't know qualified once before

They are among the weakest sides in present-day football, but once upon a time, graced football's biggest stage!

ANALYST
Top 5 / Top 10 13 Jun 2018, 16:22 IST
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5 present-day small teams who once qualified for the World Cup
5 present-day small teams who once played at the World Cup

In 20 editions till date, the FIFA World Cup has seen 79 different teams qualify for the tournament at least once. But only 8 countries in the history have actually gone on to win it. And all the champions have been either a European or a South-American.

The Asian and the African zone have produced talented squads featuring equally talented player or two in the past, but were simply inferior in quality or didn't have the resources to launch a title assault. The circumstances in the CONCACAF and Oceanic regions are far grimmer.

But there have been subaltern outfits from these regions that although languish in the wrong end of the current rankings, did make it to the competition before against all odds. Their diminutive stature might have eclipsed their World Cup history, but here we bring 5 such teams to light, whom you probably didn't know dined at the high table of World Cup once.


#5 Kuwait (1982)

The Kuwaiti football team in 1982 World Cup
The Kuwaiti football team in 1982 World Cup

Ranked as low as 159 in the world, you won't believe, Kuwait was actually the first Gulf country to qualify for the World Cup. Not Saudi Arabia. The Al-Azraq won 9 of their 15 qualifying games to book tickets to Spain, where their national anthem was sounded for the first and the only time.

At the tournament proper, Kuwait were drawn into a daunting group alongside England, France, and Czechoslovakia, and expectedly bowed out without winning a single game. The 4-1 defeat to Les Blues, however, was a controversial one as the Arabians conceded a goal in bizarre circumstances that prompted Kuwaiti FA chief Prince Fahid to barge on the pitch and convinced the match official to chalk the goal off!

After 1982, the Blue Wave were never to be seen in a World Cup again. In fact, the following years witnessed a gradual decline of the national team as they struggled to get past even the group stages of the Asian Cup!

In December last year, Kuwait hit an all-time nadir when it slumped to 189 in world rankings.

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