The Smallest Nations That Qualify for the FIFA World Cup

The FIFA World Cup tournament is considered the most competitive and prestigious soccer tournament in the world that comprises of the most elite national teams in the world to compete against each other for the world-class title of being the best on the planet.

Since not all countries can compete, each continent will send their representatives. The national team needs to qualify on a continental level and must be considered the best before they can represent their continent. With that in mind, let’s take a look at the smallest nations that have played in the FIFA World Cup.

Iceland

After Croatia defeated them in the qualifications round of the FIFA World Cup in 2014, most people in the country lost all hope as they were under the impression that their World Cup dreams were over. However, during 2016 the team managed to bounce back when they reached the first significant event after they qualified for Euro 2016. This gave them tons of motivation to defeat Kosovo to secure their entry into the 2018 Russian World Cup finally. With only 334,000 citizens in the country, Iceland became the smallest nation that ever participated in the FIFA World Cup.

Paraguay

Even though they were unable to qualify for the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia, after they lost 8 of their matches and managed to finish 7th in South America, the country of Paraguay was considered the smallest nation to participate in a FIFA World Cup back in 1930. Back then, the state only had a population of 860,000 people. During the FIFA World Cup in 1930, Paraguay was defeated by the United States and claimed victory against Belgium. Since then, the country has managed to qualify for seven additional World Cup appearance, including 2010. During the FIFA World Cup in 2010, Paraguay managed to reach the quarterfinals and was eventually taken out by Spain.

Trinidad and Tobago

After attempting for several years, the country that is known as Trinidad and Tobago managed to qualify for the FIFA World Cup for the very first time back in 2006. In 2006, the country had a population of around 1.3 million and was considered the smallest nation to qualify for a World Cup during the 2006 FIFA World Cup. The country held this record until Iceland qualified in 2017. The nation only qualified once for the World Cup and lost eight matches during the qualification rounds for the 2018 campaign.

Northern Ireland

Even though they did not qualify for the most recent tournament, the country did make history back in 1958 when they became the smallest country on earth to be eligible for the 1958 World Cup. This is one record that was held by the country until 2006. During the 1958 World Cup, Northern Ireland managed to reach the quarterfinals after they claimed victory against Czechoslovakia. However, they were quickly dealt with once they faced France.