7 Up-and-Coming Countries Better Suited to Qualify for the 2018 World Cup
The 2014 FIFA World Cup has come four years too soon for some countries.
Whether they're likely to qualify and make little impact or set to miss out altogether, we've picked out seven nations who, in four years' time, will represent formidable opponents.
Who joins David Alaba's Austria on our list? Read on to find out!
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Austria are developing a strong, reliable core of young talent that need time to develop.
With David Alaba (21), Andi Weimann (21) and Aleksandar Dragovic (22) already in place, head coach Marcel Koller needs to ensure he continues to blood new, exciting prospects.
The likes of Lucas Spendlhofer, of Internazionale, should be next on his list.
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Uzbekistan have shocked many by performing to a high standard at the FIFA U-20 World Cup.
Pegged as the bottom-feeders in their group, they've accrued four points and qualified for the latter stages thanks to a thumping 3-0 victory over New Zealand.
Should they succeed in the playoffs they can qualify for Brazil 2014, but they're not ready just yet. Another four years to develop their football programme, though, is enough to make themselves a competitive outfit.
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Iraq flunked the qualification for the 2014 FIFA World Cup, finishing bottom of their group with just one win and five points.
Yet their U-20 side are currently romping it in Turkey, securing first place in their U-20 World Cup group ahead of England, Egypt and Chile.
They're well organised, possess great desire and show remarkable thirst for improvement. The U-20 stars must be fast-tracked into the senior side, then Iraq will have a team they can be really proud of.
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Egypt have performed brilliantly in their qualification group and stand a good chance of prospering in the final playoff round to enter the 2014 FIFA World Cup.
Their U-20 side were unfortunate to be knocked out in the group stages of their respective World Cup, and splicing the two sides together could result in a pretty fearsome XI in four years' time.
Take some of the best performers in the lower age groups—Kahraba, Saleh Gomaa and Ramy Rabia et al—and put them alongside Ahmed Elmohamady, Mohamed El-Neny and Mohamed Salah. That is a team.
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Venezuela have never been a footballing powerhouse and have never contested a FIFA World Cup.
They look set to miss out this year as Uruguay will probably pip them to fifth spot in the CONMEBOL rankings, but the 15 points accrued can be seen as serious progress.
They're revamping the national setup and placing more of an emphasis on football as a national sport, and floods of youths are getting capped and trialed to find the right formula.
They're avoiding the mistakes many underperforming nations do in playing the old guard for too long, and expect Manuel Arteaga, Darwin Machis and Josef Martinez to lead the charge in 2018.
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Turkey seem stuck between footballing generations and their qualification campaign for the 2014 FIFA World Cup has gone pretty poorly.
They're essentially out of contention before the group stage is over, but there's genuine cause for excitement in the youth ranks.
Players like Semih Kaya and Omer Toprak are emerging, while Nuri Sahin and Arda Turan are top-level footballers. Mix in some of the standouts in the FIFA U-20 World Cup, and the Turks have essentially rebuilt their side.
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Norway's semifinal appearance at the European U-21 Championships was not a surprise given the young talent streaming through the nation's ranks.
What's more, said talent is finding it's way to competitive major domestic leagues in Europe, allowing them proper exposure to the best of the best.
Havard Nordtveit, Magnus Eikrem, Harmeet Singh and Orjan Nyland are just a few who have big futures in the game and will form the spine of an excellent team in the near future.