When soccer megastar Lionel Messi announced his international retirement after a heartbreaking loss to Chile in the final of the Copa América Centenario, Argentina fans held their breath, hoping Messi would have a change of heart. Messi reconsidered and joined Argentina during their 2018 World Cup qualifying campaign.
Despite some early struggles, Argentina were looking to get back on track with Messi in the fold — but their road to the World Cup has gotten a little rougher. Bolivia’s national team recently had to forfeit two matches — a win versus Perú and a draw versus Chile — after they fielded an ineligible player. The player in question, Nelson Cabrera, was born in Paraguay and isn’t eligible to play for Bolivia because he has already represented Paraguay at the international level.
What does this have to do with Argentina? Well, FIFA ruled both of Bolivia’s matches as forfeits, which gave Chile a victory in a game that originally ended in a draw. That gave Chile a few extra points, which helped Chile leapfrog over Argentina in South America’s World Cup qualifying standings.
In South America, the top four teams (out of eight) qualify for the World Cup. The fifth place team goes into a playoff with a team from the Oceania Confederation. Argentina is currently in sixth place, which means if they are unable to move up the qualification table, they’re out of the World Cup.
CREDIT: Credit: Conmebol.com
If qualification ended today, teams is yellow would qualify for 2018 World Cup. Chile, who is currently fifth, would enter a playoff against a team from the Oceania Confederation.
Argentina still has plenty of time to make up points and qualify for the 2018 World Cup in Russia, but now they’ve got added pressure — any slip up over their next few matches, and they’ll be watching the world’s biggest sporting event from home.