Iceland, Serbia advance to World Cup

Iceland, Serbia advance to World Cup

Earlier, Paraguay held a similar record to get qualified for the 1930 World Cup, with an estimated population of 850,000 and later in 2005, Trinidad and Tobago broke the record, becoming the smallest nation with a population just over 1.2 million, to get qualified for the 2005 World Cup.

They sealed a place in Russian Federation with a 2-0 victory against Kosovo in Reykjavik as Heimir Hallgrimsson's team knew a win against Group I's bottom side would guarantee top spot and an automatic qualifying place.

Gylfi Sigurdsson settled their nerves with a superbly-taken goal five minutes before halftime as Iceland proved that their run to the 2016 European Championship quarter-finals, which included wins over Austria and England, was no fluke.

The penultimate night of the UEFA World Cup Qualifying rounds was largely bereft of both goals and entertainment value for long periods.

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"After we lost against Croatia (in the 2014 World Cup playoffs) we aimed at qualifying next time".

Iceland topped their World Cup qualification group with 22 points from their 10 games and led by coach and part-time dentist Heimir Hallgrimsson, the well-drilled side will be tough to beat in Russian Federation.

Former West Ham chairman Eggert Magnusson says Iceland's World Cup qualification eclipses their epic journey to Euro 2016 and insists none of the elite teams will want to be paired with them next summer.

The Republic of Ireland progressed to the play-offs from the group with a 1-0 win away to Wales in Cardiff.

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Their national team finally qualified for their first ever major global tournament at Euro 2016 and won hearts and minds along the way.

The win for the Egyptians, which sparked wild scenes of celebration in Alexandria and in capital city Cairo, saw them finish top of their six-team group in the African qualifying section.

"We knew going into the last four games we would probably have to win the four of them, we got three but just at the final hurdle it was not enough".

Serbia also ended an eight-year major tournament drought by booking a place in Russian Federation after Aleksandar Prijovic scored after coming on as a second-half substitute in a 1-0 win over Georgia. They will not be seeded in the playoffs draw, which takes place on Wednesday (NZT).

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Italy - already certain of a play-off place behind Spain - ended their campaign with a 1-0 over Albania in Shkoder, Antonio Candreva scoring in the 73rd minute.