The thirty-two nations are selected from the various football confederations, with each confederation being allotted a pre-defined number of spots:
- Host Nation - 1
- CAF (5) - 5 direct
- AFC (4) - 4 direct plus 1 world play-off spot
- CONCACAF (3) - 3 direct plus 1 world play-off spot
- CONMEBOL (4) - 4 direct plus 1 world play-off spot
- UEFA (13) - 9 direct plus 4 from 8 play-off spots
- Oceania - 1 world play-off spot
Here is the list of National Teams that have already qualified, and those that are still alive and in contention for a play-off spot.
In case you did not know, hosting the the FIFA World Cup has its privileges. After spending billions to construct stadiums and set up the event, the host nation will also get to participate via automatic qualification (not that Brazil would have needed any help, anyways).
Watch Brazil's next match: International Friendly vs Zambia (Gillete World Tour)
Five spots have been allocated for African teams. The aggregate winner of the following two match home-and-away play-offs will guarantee a spot in the 2014 World Cup:
Ghana-Egypt, Burkina Faso-Algeria, Ethiopia-Nigeria, Ivory Coast-Senegal and Tunisia-Cameroon. Here are the most recent results from these play-offs (as of October 14, 2013).
The winner of each group advanced to the African play-offs. The play-offs pairings are drawn from two seeded groups based on FIFA ranking. It involves two matches, home and away. The play-off draw brought the following pairing: Ghana-Egypt, Burkina Faso-Algeria, Ethiopia-Nigeria, Ivory Coast-Senegal, Tunisia-Cameroon. See below for how the 10 teams won each of the CAF World Cup qualifying tables.
Watch the next CAF WCQ match Ghana vs Egypt.
The Asian Football Confederation gets four direct qualifying spots. The fifth placed team will compete in the International play-off with the fifth-placed team from CONMEBOL.
The top two teams in each group advances through direct qualification.
Jordan faced Uzbekistan in a home and away play-off where both games ended 1-1. The winner had to be decided by penalties. Jordan won the penalty shoot-out 8-9 away in Uzbekistan. Jordan will face the CONMEBOL fifth placed team.
CONCACAF gets three direct spots for the World Cup. The fourth placed team will compete with the Oceania World play-off candidate (New Zealand). As of October 14th, Mexico will qualify for a play-off spot from CONCACAF. Mexico need only a draw away in Costa Rica to secure a play-off spot. Panama will advance with the combination of a win and a Mexico loss, providing the goal difference factor goes in their favor. Mexico can still qualify directly if Honduras lose and Mexico win, and if the goal differential goes in Mexico's favor.
The top three placed teams in the group advance through direct qualification.
As of the time of this writing, October 14, Mexico is in pole-position for the play-off spot after a late win against Panama at the Azeteca Stadium, but there is still some work to do. A draw in Costa Rica will guarantee Mexico the play-off spot.
Watch the CONCACAF World Cup Qualifiers Live:
South America gets four direct spots. The fifth placed team will compete in a World play-off with Jordan from AFC. Since the host country is Brazil, we may very well see six of the ten South American teams participating at Brazil 2014, giving it a truly South American and Latino flair.
The final match-day will be certain to keep Ecuadorians, Chileans and Uruguayans on their toes as the third, fourth and fifth placed positions are still up for grabs.
Uruguay sit currently in fifth which guarantees them a consolation prize of a play-off opportunity. However, nothing could beat a direct qualification spot. A win in Argentina coupled with a Chilean or Ecuadorian loss could see Uruguay leapfrog into the safe zone.
Watch the upcoming CONMEBOL Matches Live:
New Zealand has the sole Oceania World play-off spot. The Kiwis will compete with the fourth placed team from the CONCACAF group.
UEFA get 13 direct World Cup spots; nine from the group winners and four from an European play-off based on the best eight 2nd placed teams from all the groups. The following UEFA nations have qualified assuming they hold their position through the final match-day.
The winners of each group directly qualify for the World Cup. The eight best second placed teams will be competing for the last four UEFA spots in the European play-off.
Some big-name teams are looking at qualification through the play-offs. The draw will be selected on October 18, 2013. The eight European play-off teams will be seeded into two groups of four based on their FIFA Ranking. As of the current FIFA Ranking and the current standings, the seeding would put Croatia (10), Portugal (11), Greece (12), and Sweden (22) in the first group. France (25), Ukraine (26), Turkey (49) and Iceland (54) would be placed in the second group. This could give us some very competitive play-off pairings. All eyes are on if Portugal will get drawn with France, a scenario both teams would rather avoid with Cristiano Ronaldo and Frank Ribery potential nominees for the 2013 Ballon d'Or award alongside Lionel Messi.
Watch todays European World Cup Qualifiers Live:
What are your predictions? How would you feel about a World Cup without France or Portugal, or without the likes of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Luka Modric, Frank Ribery or Cristiano Ronaldo? Share your opinion and predictions.
For all the UEFA World Cup Qualifiers visit the WCQ 2014 section.