1994 FIFA World Cup qualification

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1994 FIFA World Cup qualification
Tournament details
Teams 147 (from 6 confederations)
Tournament statistics
Matches played 497
Goals scored 1,446 (2.91 per match)

A total of 147 teams entered the 1994 FIFA World Cup qualification rounds, competing for 22 of the total 24 spots in the final tournament. The United States, as the hosts, and Germany, as the defending champions, qualified automatically. The draw was made in New York on 8 December 1991 in the Madison Square Garden.

For the first time, 3 teams would qualify from the African zone, due to the performance of African teams in the previous tournament. The 24 spots available in the 1994 World Cup would be distributed among the continental zones as follows:

  • Europe (UEFA): 13 places, 1 of them went to automatic qualifier Germany, while the other 12 places were contested by 38 teams (including Israel).
  • South America (CONMEBOL): 3.5 places, contested by 9 teams. The winner of the 0.5 place would advance to the intercontinental play-offs (against a team from CONCACAF or OFC).
  • North, Central America and Caribbean (CONCACAF): 2.25 places, 1 of them went to automatic qualifier United States, while the other 1.25 places were contested by 22 teams. The winner of the 0.25 place would advance to the intercontinental play-offs (against a team from OFC).
  • Africa (CAF): 3 places, contested by 40 teams.
  • Asia (AFC): 2 places, contested by 30 teams.
  • Oceania (OFC): 0.25 place, contested by 7 teams. The winner of the 0.25 place would advance to the intercontinental play-offs (against a team from CONCACAF).

A total of 130 teams played at least one qualifying match. A total of 497 qualifying matches were played, and 1446 goals were scored (an average of 2.91 per match).

Continental zones[edit]

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

Group 1 – Italy and Switzerland qualified.
Group 2 – Norway and Netherlands qualified.
Group 3 – Spain and Republic of Ireland qualified.
Group 4 – Romania and Belgium qualified.
Group 5 – Greece and Russia qualified.
Group 6 – Sweden and Bulgaria qualified.
Group A – Colombia qualified. Argentina advanced to the CONMEBOL–CONCACAF/OFC intercontinental play-off.
Group B – Brazil and Bolivia qualified.
Mexico qualified. Canada advanced to the CONCACAF–OFC intercontinental play-off.
Group 1 – Nigeria qualified.
Group 2 – Morocco qualified.
Group 3 – Cameroon qualified.
Saudi Arabia and South Korea qualified.
Australia advanced to the CONCACAF–OFC intercontinental play-off.

Intercontinental play-offs[edit]

For the first time, there would be two rounds of play in the intercontinental play-offs. The teams from CONCACAF and OFC would first play against each other on a home-and-away basis. The winner would then play against the team from CONMEBOL on a home-and-away basis. The winner would qualify.

CONCACAF–OFC intercontinental play-off[edit]

The aggregate score was tied at 3–3, however, Australia advanced 4–1 on penalties to the CONMEBOL–CONCACAF/OFC intercontinental play-off.

CONMEBOL–OFC intercontinental play-off[edit]

Argentina qualified by the aggregate score of 2–1.

Qualified teams[edit]

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 24 teams qualified for the 1994 FIFA World Cup:

Team Finals appearance Streak Last appearance
 Argentina 11th 6 1990
 Belgium 9th 4 1990
 Bolivia 3rd 1 1950
 Brazil 15th 15 1990
 Bulgaria 6th 1 1986
 Cameroon 3rd 2 1990
 Colombia 3rd 2 1990
 Germany (c) 13th(1) 11(1) 1990(1)
 Greece 1st 1
 Italy 13th 9 1990
 South Korea 4th 3 1990
 Mexico 10th 1 1986
 Morocco 3rd 1 1986
 Netherlands 6th 2 1990
 Nigeria 1st 1
 Norway 2nd 1 1938
 Republic of Ireland 2nd 2 1990
 Romania 6th 2 1990
 Russia 8th(2) 4(2) 1990(2)
 Saudi Arabia 1st 1
 Spain 9th 5 1990
 Sweden 9th 2 1990
  Switzerland 7th 1 1966
 United States (h) 5th 2 1990

(h) – qualified automatically as hosts

(c) – qualified automatically as defending champions

1Includes 10 appearances by DFB representing West Germany between 1954 and 1990. Excludes 1 appearance by DVF representing East Germany between 1954 and 1990
2Includes appearances by USSR.


  • Brazil lost a World Cup qualifying match for the first time ever on 25 July 1993, when they were defeated 2–0 by Bolivia in La Paz. Brazil had played 31 World Cup qualifying matches (24 wins, 7 draws) before.
  • The entire team of Zambia was killed in a plane crash in Gabon carrying them to a qualifier against Senegal. The nation had to build a new team from scratch. Zambia failed to qualify for USA 1994 by one point. Kalusha Bwalya was the only survivor, due to being in the Netherlands rather than on the flight.
  • San Marino's Davide Gualtieri scored the fastest goal ever in World Cup competition: the opener against England after 8.3 seconds [1], although England went on to win the game 7–1.
  • Emil Kostadinov scored Bulgaria's goal winner against France in the dying seconds of their last World Cup qualifier match on 17 November 1993 (the last day of qualifying) at Parc des Princes in Paris. Bulgaria got the points and qualified for the finals. France was heavily criticized for the loss, especially David Ginola, who mistakenly gave away the ball to the Bulgarians and lead to the last goal of Bulgaria. Les Bleus, with 2 home matches left, needed either to beat Israel or obtain a point against Bulgaria to guarantee qualification, but lost both matches.
  • Colombia defeated Argentina 5–0 in Buenos Aires on the last match of the South American qualifiers. This result sent Colombia straight into the World Cup, while Argentina were forced to play Australia at the CONMEBOL/CONCACAF/OFC playoff to qualify.
  • Japan also conceded a last-minute goal against Iraq in their final match, thus denying themselves a place in the finals and handing the spot to their rivals South Korea. The incident is called the Agony of Doha in Japan.
  • There were only nine participants in the CONMEBOL qualification because Chile could not take part in qualification as they were banned by FIFA for an incident during qualifying for the 1990 World Cup.
  • On the last day of qualifying, reigning European champions Denmark lost 1–0 against Spain, subsequently moving from 1st to 3rd place and missing qualification. Spain's goal scored on a header by Fernando Hierro was controversial as Spanish midfielder José Bakero fouled Danish goalkeeper Peter Schmeichel, who mistakenly came out to collect the incoming cross from a corner kick, but did not see the ball. The referee, who had mistakenly awarded Spain the corner kick, did not see the foul and allowed the goal to stand. Ireland finished 2nd in the group with the same points and goal difference as Denmark, but qualified due to having scored more goals.
  • Argentina qualified for a FIFA World Cup after playing qualifying play-offs.
  • Only 37 of the entered teams actually competed in the qualification tournament of the European zone: Germany qualified for the 1994 FIFA World Cup automatically as defending champions and Liechtenstein withdrew before the draw was made. Additionally, Yugoslavia was suspended by FIFA due to UN sanctions stemming from the Yugoslav wars.
  • Greece qualified for the first time, beating Russia in their last match in Athens, in front of 70.000 spectators. The game had to stop for twenty minutes after Nikos Machlas scored the winning goal, due to the thick smoke from fireworks.


  1. ^ Other sources attribute this goal as a goal scored by Batistuta of Argentina.

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