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Should they fail to beat Ecuador on Wednesday in Quito, Lionel Messi and Co. will fail to qualify for the tournament, with Brazil being the only team to have qualified from the group thus far. Croatia, Denmark, Italy, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland are already assured of a place in the play-offs.

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.

Russian Federation (as hosts) were the very first team booked in, while five-time winners Brazil joined them as early as March 2017 after an incredibly dominant showing in South American qualifying.

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. The team did so with an unbeaten record during the qualifying games, a trend Team Melli has been keeping in friendlies as well.

Iran, South Korea, Japan and Saudi Arabia were the first four Asian nations to qualify.

The victor will take on the team which finishes fourth in the CONCACAF section over two legs for a place in Russian Federation.

It is still over eight months to the world stage football tournament and fans are not waiting to miss the first sale period for the ticket which ends Thursday Octorber 12.

Panama now occupy fourth, which carries with it a play-off against Australia or Syria.

New Zealand face a play-off next month against the team finishing fifth in South American qualifying, with the victor of that two-legged tie qualifying for the finals. Those rankings are due out on the 16th and just in time for the draw.


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