The Bahrain national football team (Arabic: منتخب البحرين لكرة القدم) is the national team of the Kingdom of Bahrain and is controlled by the Bahrain Football Association; it was founded in 1951 and joined FIFA in 1966. They have never reached the finals of the World Cup, but have twice come within one match of doing so. Bahrain won the FIFA's most improved team award in 2004, and finished fourth in the 2004 Asian Cup, beating Uzbekistan in the quarter-finals but losing to Japan in the semi-finals 4–3. Bahrain then lost to Iran in the third-place match, thus finishing in fourth place overall.
After Uzbekistan and Bahrain both finished third in their respective groups during the World Cup 2006 qualifiers, Bahrain entered a two-legged playoff with Uzbekistan, which they won on away goals with an aggregate score of 1–1. This allowed Bahrain to enter another two-legged playoff with the fourth-placed CONCACAF nation, (Trinidad and Tobago), for a spot in the World Cup. But a 0–1 Bahrain loss in Manama after a 1–1 draw in Port of Spain saw the CONCACAF nation go through.
The Bahrain national football team playing Australia on June 10, 2009 in a World Cup qualifier
In the third round of the 2010 FIFA World Cup qualifiers, Bahrain were drawn into group B along with Japan, Oman, and Thailand. They finished second overall to qualify to the final round, in which Bahrain finished third overall in their group, below Australia and Japan, but above Uzbekistan and Qatar. In the second leg of the playoff against Saudi Arabia to decide Asia's fifth best team, Bahrain drew 2–2 with Saudi Arabia after scoring in stoppage time which allowed them go through on away goals, after drawing their home leg 0–0. They went on to play New Zealand in the final playoff in which the victory would qualify for the World Cup, but after a goalless draw in Manama on 10 October 2009, Bahrain lost the return leg 1–0 in Wellington, missing out on qualification at the last hurdle for the second time running.
In 2014 FIFA World Cup qualification, Bahrain did considerably worse. In the third round, they were drawn against Indonesia, Iran and Qatar. Although they managed to defeat Indonesia both home and away, they also got thrashed 6–0 by Iran away from home, and drew their other 3 games. Although they had a higher goal difference than Qatar, they needed an extra point to advance to the next round. If they had drawn to Iran away from home, they would have advanced. But they failed to do so, and their campaign ended in the third round, their worst result since 2006 qualification.