1986 FIFA World Cup qualification
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|Teams||121 (from 6 confederations)|
|Goals scored||801 (2.6 per match)|
|Top scorer(s)||Preben Elkjaer Larsen (8 goals)|
A total of 121 teams entered the 1986 FIFA World Cup qualification rounds, competing for a total of 24 spots in the final tournament. Mexico, as the hosts, and Italy, as the defending champions, qualified automatically, leaving 22 spots open for competition. The draw took place on 7 December 1983 at Zürich, Switzerland.
The 24 spots available in the 1986 World Cup would be distributed among the continental zones as follows:
- Europe (UEFA): 13.5 places, 1 of them went to automatic qualifier Italy, while the other 12.5 places were contested by 32 teams. The winner of the 0.5 place would advance to the intercontinental play-offs (against a team from OFC).
- South America (CONMEBOL): 4 places, contested by 10 teams.
- North, Central America and Caribbean (CONCACAF): 2 places, 1 of them went to automatic qualifier Mexico, while the other 1 place was contested by 17 teams.
- Africa (CAF): 2 places, contested by 29 teams.
- Asia (AFC): 2 places, contested by 27 teams.
- Oceania (OFC): 0.5 place, contested by 4 teams (including Israel and Chinese Taipei). The winner of the 0.5 place would advance to the intercontinental play-offs (against a team from UEFA).
A total of 110 teams played at least one qualifying match. A total of 308 qualifying matches were played, and 801 goals were scored (an average of 2.60 per match).
To see the dates and results of the qualification rounds for each continental zone, click on the following articles:
- Group 1 – Poland qualified. Belgium advanced to the UEFA play-offs.
- Group 2 – West Germany and Portugal qualified.
- Group 3 – England and Northern Ireland qualified.
- Group 4 – France and Bulgaria qualified.
- Group 5 – Hungary qualified. Netherlands advanced to the UEFA play-offs.
- Group 6 – Denmark and USSR qualified.
- Group 7 – Spain qualified. Scotland advanced to the UEFA–OFC intercontinental play-off.
- Play-offs – Belgium qualified over Netherlands.
- Group 1 – Argentina qualified. Peru and Colombia advanced to the CONMEBOL play-offs.
- Group 2 – Uruguay qualified. Chile advanced to the CONMEBOL play-offs.
- Group 3 – Brazil qualified. Paraguay advanced to the CONMEBOL play-offs.
- Play-offs – Paraguay qualified over Chile, Colombia and Peru.
- Canada qualified.
- Algeria and Morocco qualified.
- Iraq and Korea Republic qualified.
- Australia advanced to the UEFA–OFC intercontinental play-off
Inter-confederation play-offs: UEFA v OFC
The two teams would play against each other on a home-and-away basis. The winner qualified for the 1986 FIFA World Cup.
|Team 1||Agg.||Team 2||1st leg||2nd leg|
The following 24 teams qualified for the 1986 FIFA World Cup:
|Team||Finals appearance||Streak||Last appearance|
(h) – qualified automatically as hosts
(c) – qualified automatically as defending champions
11 of the 24 teams subsequently failed to qualify for the 1990 finals: Algeria, Bulgaria, Canada, Denmark, France, Hungary, Iraq, Morocco, Northern Ireland, Paraguay, Poland and Portugal. Mexico would be banned from competing in the 1990 finals due to the Cachirules scandal, bringing the total number of teams who did not qualify for the subsequent tournament to 12.
- 8 goals
- 7 goals
- 6 goals
- 5 goals
- John Kosmina
- Dave Mitchell
- Bryan Robson
- Jose Roberto Figueroa
- Zahi Armeli
- Kazushi Kimura
- Fernando Gomes
- Oleh Protasov
- Bassam Jeridi
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- West Germany lost a World Cup qualifying match for the first time ever on 16 October 1985, when they were defeated 0–1 by Portugal in Stuttgart. Including games played by Germany before the 2nd World War, they had played 36 World Cup qualifying matches (32 wins, 4 draws) before. Brazil did better by remaining undefeated until 25 July 1993, when they were beaten by Bolivia in La Paz, after 31 World Cup qualifying matches (24 wins, 7 draws) without a single loss.
- Scotland manager Jock Stein died during their qualifier at Wales, suffering a heart attack immediately after the Scots scored a late equaliser.
- Canada and Iraq qualified to their only World Cup up to date.