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1998 FIFA World Cup qualification

1998 FIFA World Cup qualification
Tournament details
Teams 174 (from 6 confederations)
Tournament statistics
Matches played 643
Goals scored 1922 (2.99 per match)

A total of 174 teams entered the 1998 FIFA World Cup qualification rounds which began with the preliminary qualification draw on 12 December 1995 at Paris, competing for a total of 32 spots in the final tournament. This is the first time there would be 32 teams in the finals. France, as the hosts, and Brazil, as the defending champions, qualified automatically, leaving 30 spots open for competition.

The 32 spots available in the 1998 World Cup would be distributed among the continental zones as follows:

  • Europe (UEFA): 15 places, one of which went to automatic qualifier France, while the other 14 places were contested by 49 teams.
  • South America (CONMEBOL): 5 places, one of which went to automatic qualifier Brazil, while the other 4 places were contested by 9 teams.
  • North, Central America and Caribbean (CONCACAF): 3 places, contested by 30 teams.
  • Africa (CAF): 5 places, contested by 38 teams.
  • Asia (AFC): 3.5 places, contested by 36 teams. The winner of the 0.5 place would advance to the intercontinental play-offs (against a team from OFC).
  • Oceania (OFC): 0.5 place, contested by 10 teams. The winner of the 0.5 place would advance to the intercontinental play-offs (against a team from AFC).

A total of 168 teams played at least one qualifying match. A total of 643 qualifying matches were played, and 1922 goals were scored (an average of 2.99 per match).

In the event, the final was played between the two automatic qualifiers.


  • Continental zones 1
  • Intercontinental play-offs 2
    • AFC–OFC intercontinental play-off 2.1
  • Qualified teams 3
  • Notes 4
  • External links 5

Continental zones

To see the dates and results of the qualification rounds for each continental zone, click on the following articles:

Group 1 – Denmark qualified. Croatia advanced to the UEFA play-offs.
Group 2 – England qualified. Italy advanced to the UEFA play-offs.
Group 3 – Norway qualified. Hungary advanced to the UEFA play-offs.
Group 4 – Austria qualified. Scotland also qualified with the best record among the runners-up.
Group 5 – Bulgaria qualified. Russia advanced to the UEFA play-offs.
Group 6 – Spain qualified. Yugoslavia advanced to the UEFA play-offs.
Group 7 – Netherlands qualified. Belgium advanced to the UEFA play-offs.
Group 8 – Romania qualified. Republic of Ireland advanced to the UEFA play-offs.
Group 9 – Germany qualified. Ukraine advanced to the UEFA play-offs.
Play-offs – Croatia, Italy, Belgium and Yugoslavia qualified over Ukraine, Russia, Republic of Ireland and Hungary respectively.
Argentina, Paraguay, Colombia and Chile qualified.
Mexico, USA and Jamaica qualified.
Group 1 – Nigeria qualified.
Group 2 – Tunisia qualified.
Group 3 – South Africa qualified.
Group 4 – Cameroon qualified.
Group 5 – Morocco qualified.
Group A – Saudi Arabia qualified. Iran advanced to the AFC play-off.
Group B – South Korea qualified. Japan advanced to the AFC play-off.
Play-off – Japan qualified. Iran advanced to the AFC–OFC intercontinental play-off.
Australia advanced to the AFC–OFC intercontinental play-off.

Intercontinental play-offs

The teams would play against each other on a home-and-away basis. The winner would qualify.

AFC–OFC intercontinental play-off

22 November 1997
Iran  1–1  Australia
Azizi Goal 40' Kewell Goal 19'
Azadi Stadium, Tehran
Attendance: 128,000
Referee: Pierluigi Pairetto (Italy)

29 November 1997
Australia  2–2  Iran
Kewell Goal 32'
Vidmar Goal 48'
Bagheri Goal 71'
Azizi Goal 75'
Melbourne Cricket Ground, Melbourne
Attendance: 98,000
Referee: Sándor Puhl (Hungary)

The aggregate score was tied 3–3, and Iran qualified due to the away goals rule.

Qualified teams

Final qualification status
  Country qualified for World Cup
  Country failed to qualify
  Country did not enter World Cup
  Country not a FIFA member
The following 32 teams qualified for the 1998 FIFA World Cup:
Team Finals appearance Streak Last appearance
 Argentina 12th 7 1994
 Austria 7th 1 1990
 Belgium 10th 5 1994
 Brazil (c) 16th 16 1994
 Bulgaria 7th 2 1994
 Cameroon 4th 3 1994
 Chile 7th 1 1982
 Colombia 4th 3 1994
 Croatia 1st 1
 Denmark 2nd 1 1986
 England 10th 1 1990
 France (h) 10th 1 1986
 Germany 14th(1) 12(1) 1994
 Iran 2nd 1 1978
 Italy 14th 10 1994
 Jamaica 1st 1
 Japan 1st 1
 South Korea 5th 4 1994
 Mexico 11th 2 1994
 Morocco 4th 2 1994
 Netherlands 7th 3 1994
 Nigeria 2nd 2 1994
 Norway 3rd 2 1994
 Paraguay 5th 1 1986
 Romania 7th 3 1994
 Saudi Arabia 2nd 2 1994
 Scotland 8th 1 1990
 South Africa 1st 1
 Spain 10th 6 1994
 Tunisia 2nd 1 1978
 United States 6th 3 1994
 Yugoslavia 1st(2) 1 -(2)

(h) – qualified automatically as hosts

(c) – qualified automatically as defending champions

1Includes 10 appearances by DFB representing West Germany between 1954 and 1990.
2Excludes appearances by pre-division Yugoslavia. If those are counted together, this is their 9th appearance, and their previous appearance was in 1990.


  • For the first time, the South American qualifiers were held in a single group.
  • Australia had a 2–0 lead against Iran in the second leg of their play-off against Iran, but conceded two late goals and was denied a place in the finals. The result meant that Australia went undefeated in qualifying but still miss out on qualification.
  • Burundi won their 2 first games of this qualifying campaign, unfortunately they had to withdraw due to civil war, meaning they were eliminated though winning all of their matches.

External links

  • FIFA World Cup official site - 1998 World Cup qualification
  • RSSSF - 1998 World Cup Qualification

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