Sunday, February 2, 2014
Wales and Israel's World Cup Qualifiers
The World Cup Qualifying campaigns for both Wales and Israel were probably the strangest ever. Israel actually "qualified" for the World Cup Finals in Sweden, but ended up playing in a playoff series vs Wales.
In the original WC qualifying round, Wales came second behind Czechoslavia in Group 4 of the European zone. Only the group winners qualified for Sweden.
Meanwhile, Israel had a "successful" campaign in the Africa/Asia zone and qualified for the World Cup Finals.
Israel was set to play against Turkey, but Turkey, a Muslim country, refused to play Israel and withdrew. Israel advanced to the next round.
Israel was set to play against Sudan, Egypt and Indonesia, but the Muslim countries refused to play Israel and withdrew. Israel advanced to the next round.
Israel was set to play against Sudan, but Sudan, a Muslim country, refused to play Israel and withdrew. Israel technically qualified for Sweden 1958.
But FIFA ruled that no team would qualify without playing at least one match (except for the defending champions and the hosts), and Israel had yet to play any. So a special play-off was created between Israel and the runner-up of one of the UEFA Groups, where the teams played against each other on a home-and-away basis, with the winner qualifying. After Belgium rejected the invitation, Wales played and beat Israel in the special playoff.
Please also see my All-Time World Cup Team Index.