It was shocking when the home of modern day 'total football' Netherlands failed to qualify for the World Cup 2018. The country boast legends like Marco Van Basten, Johan Cruyff and Denis Berkamp with contemporary stars like Arjen Robben, Robin Van Persie and Wesley Sneijder. Road to World Cup: The failure to reach Russia brought the curtain down on the career of Arjen Robben. Amid a low in their recent form, the Orange team were also out of luck. Bas Dost scored a winner in the away match in Sweden. However, that goal was disallowed. Had that goal stood, the Netherlands would have finished as runners-up. The Dutch finished third behind Sweden. Hugo Lloris gifted Sweden the winner against France with a blunder in extra time. Sweden notched up a record 8-0 win over Luxemburg, which meant exit for Holland from the tournament on goal difference with both teams equalling 19 points. The replacement of coach Guus Hiddink with Danny Blind raised some eyebrows. Blind failed to guide Holland to the 2016 Euros, but still hung on to his job and led Holland for the World Cup qualifiers. Holland will be missing for a second consecutive big tournament. They failed to qualify for Euro Cup 2016 with a 4th place finish in their qualification group. Although the Netherlands have never won the World Cup, they have been a big force in international football. The Dutch have been finalists in 1974, 1978 and 2010 and semifinalist in 2014.
After a brave performance in 2014 World Cup, where they were knocked out by Brazil on penalties in the quarters, Chile has upped its game. They have won the Copa America twice after the World Cup 2014 by defeating Argentina in a heated final. Stars like Alexis Sanchez led the attack with a cohesive unit with Claudio Bravo as the goalkeeper.Road to World Cup: Chile held the 4th place in Fifa rankings until July 2017. They lost the Confederations Cup final 1-0 to Germany. Since then the team has descended its form, and are now ranked 15th in the Fifa World rankings. Chile will be the highest ranked nation to miss the World Cup. They started the qualifiers with an impressive 2-0 win over Brazil but lost four of their final six matches. Brazil won the final qualifier with a 3-0 win, which brought Chile's goal difference into negative and Peru, who had a goal difference of +1, got the playoff spot to play New Zealand.
USA won the CONCACAF Gold Cup for the 6th time this summer, beating Jamaica in the final 2-1. USA failed to replicate their form in the World Cup qualifiers amid their CONCACAF success. The US last missed the World Cup in 1986.Road to World Cup: The US had a good start to the World Cup qualifiers after winning four straight home matches. The coaching duty was shifted from Jurgen Klinsmann to Bruce Arena after some poor performances, especially the 4-0 defeat with Costa Rica. The US also lost the reverse fixture 2-0 in New Jersey. In their final qualifier, a win or a draw would have been enough for the USA but Bruce Arena’s team suffered a dire 2-1 defeat to a humble Trinidad and Tobago side. The result meant that teen sensation Christian Pulisic of Borussia Dortmund will be missed in the world cup finals.
Back in 1990, the indomitable lions of Cameroon led by Roger Milla were the first African team to make a big impact in that year's World Cup. Cameroon has played at seven World Cups, one more than Nigeria. But they will miss out 2018 World Cup after finishing third in their group behind Nigeria and Zambia.Although Samuel Eto has retired, Cameroon won the African Cup of Nations for the 5th time in 2017. However, they couldn't carry the form in qualifiers. They won only five of the 13 matches and only one of them came in the final stage of World Cup qualification. The qualification system is complex in Africa as only five group winners in the final round get through. Nigeria topped Cameroon's group with Zambia finishing second. Algeria, who reached the round of 16 at the 2014 World Cup, finished bottom.
Cote-D-Ivoire has produced big talents in the last two decades. Didier Drogba, the Toure brothers and tricky winger Gervinho to name a few. However, with the veterans retiring and the new lot finding hard to maintain the quality, they failed to qualify for the World cup. A regular at recent tournaments, the Ivorians missed out after finishing runners-up to a Morocco team that didn’t concede a goal in all six third-round qualifiers.