How is the race to get to the 2018 World Cup going outside Europe?

Just over half the qualifying spots for Russia come from other confederations

Argentina, Ramiro Funes Mori

Argentina's Ramiro Funes Mori, right, celebrates with his teammates after scoring against Peru during a 2018 World Cup qualifying soccer match in Lima, Peru, Thursday, Oct. 6, 2016. (AP Photo/Martin Mejia)

From an Irish point of view, seven points from nine after three opening World Cup qualifiers are solid even if the performances that accompanied them weren't necessarily of the same vintage.

But as the European sides go through their group phases, how do things stand in South America, Africa and other parts of the globe?

CONMEBOL

All 10 members of South America's confederation take part in a round-robin league format which has been a long-time tradition. Four teams qualify automatically and the fifth goes into a playoff against a team from the Oceania federation, which means New Zealand is the likely team that stands in the way.

And they have hit the halfway point of nine games.

Argentina, who were missing Lionel Messi in their 2-2 draw against Peru last week, are currently in the fifth place playoff spot, before tonight's home game with Paraguay.

There appears to be an established Top 5 because Argentina have a four point lead over sixth place Paraguay, while Copa America champions Chile have made a poor start to sit seventh, five points adrift of the playoff spot.

Topping the standings are Luis Suarez's Uruguay, ahead of Brazil, Ecuador and Colombia.

For Chile to fight back into that crucial Top 5, they have a tough run of fixtures, although tonight's one against Peru is a possible three-pointer. After that however, it's Colombia away and Uruguay at home next month.

As things stand

Uruguay 19 points

Brazil 18

Ecuador 16

Colombia 16

Argentina 16

Paraguay 12

Chile 11

CAF

Africa has the Nations Cup to come in three months but they have also just started the final phase of the World Cup qualifiers.

As always, five African sides will qualify for the tournament and the 20 remaining teams have been split into five groups, with the winner of each pool going to Russia in the summer of 2018.

Each team has played their opening fixture so it is too early to tell who is going to qualify.

However, if one was to make an off-hand prediction, 2015 Africa Cup of Nations winners Ivory Coast and 2002 World Cup surprise package Senegal appear to be good bets to qualify.  

 

 AFC

As always in Asia, the final pre-playoff phase is split into two groups with the top two from each advancing to the World Cup and third place in both playing off against each other.

At the time of writing, Group B favourites Japan and Australia have just played out a 1-1 draw in Melbourne which puts the Socceroos top on eight points and Japan just one behind.

But Saudi Arabia and UAE in third and fourth have a game in hand on the top two - which comes against each other today.

 

Meanwhile, two other giants of Asian football in the shape of Iran and South Korea play each other in Tehran today. They currently top Group A with seven points each and look likely to go to another World Cup provided they avoid shocks.

However, South Korea's two home wins so far have been dramatic with 3-2 wins over China and Qatar.

 CONCACAF

North and Central America as well as the Caribbean don't begin the final six-team group phase until next month.

But the identity of the six teams that will vie for three automatic qualifying places and one playoff spot are known.

They are Mexico, USA, Costa Rica, Honduras, Panama and Trinidad and Tobago.

The clear favourites to make the Top 3 would be Mexico, USA and Costa Rica.