More than 200 teams competed for 31 open spots in this summer’s World Cup and the United States wasn’t the only country that came up short in that competition. Here are five others whose absence in Russia will be noteworthy:
Italy: Italy has a long World Cup pedigree. Not only did it play host to the tournament twice, including the second edition in 1934, but it has won the title four times; only Brazil, with five championships, has won more often. Italy won’t have a chance to add to its collection in Russia, however, after getting shut out by Sweden twice in a two-leg UEFA qualifying playoff last fall. The Azzurri last missed the tournament in 1958, the only time in 19 World Cups it failed to participate. Perhaps we should have seen this coming though: Italy didn’t make it past the group stage in the last two World Cups.
The Netherlands: The Dutch have never won a World Cup but they did reach the quarterfinals six of the last eight times they played in the tournament. But while the Netherlands finished third in 2014 and made the final four years before that, it has failed to qualify for its last two major tournaments, missing out on the 2016 Euros as well.
Cameroon: Africa’s most successful World Cup team, the Indomitable Lions have played in seven tournaments, making it through to the quarterfinals in 1990. However, they won just once in six games in the final round of African qualifying last year and will miss the World Cup for just the second time since 1986.
Ghana: In 2010, Ghana beat the U.S. en route to the quarterfinals in just its second World Cup appearance. But the Black Stars didn’t win a game four years ago in Brazil and followed that by winning only once in six tries in the final round of last year’s African qualifying tournament.