The Maldives has been included in the World Cup qualifying stage in the Asian zone for the 2018 World Cup finals to be held in Russia.
The country was included in qualifying as one of the top 34 Asian national teams, reported Vaguthu, with Afghanistan and Bangladesh the only other South Asian countries to appear in the qualifying round.
The Maldives is currently ranked 131st in the FIFA world rankings. The highest ever ranking attained by the country was in 2006 at 126, while lowest was 183, in 1997.
The qualifying matches – which are to be played as home and away fixtures – are due to start on June 11, while the group draw is to be decided in April.
The top team in each group will qualify for the third round in the World Cup qualifications, while also automatically qualifying for the 2019 Asian Cup – the biggest footballing event in Asia.
The Maldives national football team lost one nil to Iran in Male’ tonight at the second leg of the World Cup Qualifying group stage.
After losing 4-0 in the first leg in Tehran, the Maldives needed to win by a higher margin to qualify for the second round.
Iranian striker Mohamed Reza scored the only goal of the game in first half added time.
Iran set a World Cup qualifying record when it beat the Maldives 17-0 in 1997. However when the two nations met again in World Cup qualifying in April 2000, the match in Male’ ended 3-0.
The Maldives has now failed to score against Iran in five senior international matches.
The Maldives national football team lost 4 nil to Iran in Tehran last night in the first leg of the World Cup qualifying group stage match.
Striker Karim Ansarifard opened the scoring in the fourth minute but had to wait until the 62nd minute to get his second. Captain Ali Karimi added the third goal when he scored from a corner six minutes later while substitute Saeid Daghighi netted the fourth with two minutes to go.
Maldives will have to beat the three-times Asian Champions with a higher score in the return leg on July 28 in Male’ to qualify for the second group stage.
Iran set a World Cup qualifying record when it beat the Maldives 17-0 in 1997. However the last time the two nations met in April 2000, Iran won the Asian Cup qualifying game 3-0.