By 90Min
June 05, 2019

For all the wonders and riches of securing a World Cup place for your country, equally there are those nations who fell just short of a spot at the showpiece event.

Plenty of the globe's big hitters will be on display in France, with all of the top ten FIFA-ranked nations set to bellow out their nation's respective anthems in just a few days' time.

Therefore, to offer a morsel of consolation to the sides who will be forced enjoy from the comfort of their sofas, here are the nations who failed to reach France this year.


North Korea

FIFA Ranking: 11th

Best World Cup Finish: Quarter Finals (2007)

KIM WON-JIN/GettyImages

Despite their high ranking among the top sides around the world, North Korea's dream of a fifth World Cup appearance was over long before it had even began.

Unlike the rest of Europe, where a qualifying process is done via a set of groups featuring sides across the continent, for Asian countries qualification is assured via the AFC Women's Asian Cup -  a tournament in itself.

In order to reach the competition, sides must qualify via the AFC Women's Asian Cup qualification, which featured 21 teams when it took place in 2018. North Korea's group, featured rivals South Korea, Uzbekistan, India and Hong Kong - with Chollima narrowly missing out on goals difference to their southern rivals.

Three wins and a draw left them on ten points, but three less goals scored than South Korea meant their World Cup dream was over.


Denmark

FIFA Ranking: 17th

Best World Cup Finish: Quarter Finals (1991 & 1995)

Jan Kruger/GettyImages

In a similar scenario, Denmark were beaten to the post in their bid for World Cup qualification by their arch nemeses Sweden.


Their group for qualification included Sweden, Ukraine, Hungary and Croatia, and it was the two strong sides who finished top two. Defeat to the Swedes on the final round of fixtures saw them finish in the group on 16 points, while the Blågult took first spot with 21 points.

That crushing 1-0 home defeat meant in order to reach the finals they would need to see past a strong Netherlands side in a two legged play-off, who themselves finished runners up in their group to one of the tournament favourites Norway.

Lars Søndergaard's side fell to a 2-0 loss away in the Netherlands, leaving themselves will it all to do in the second leg. Denmark started like a house on fire, netting after just five minutes to spark hopes of a comeback, but their fire was soon put out as Lineth Beerensteyn scored just two minutes later before adding a second in the second half of stoppage time.

It means Denmark have now failed to reach the World Cup finals since 2007, missing out on the last four editions.


Switzerland

FIFA Ranking: 18th

Best World Cup Finish: Round of 16 (2015)

DAVID CATRY/GettyImages

The previous tournament in Canada four years ago was a historical one for the Swiss, as they had reached the finals stage for the first time, having played their first match back in 1972. La Nati's stock had risen since then, going on to qualify for their first ever European Championship in 2017, where they finished third after drawing with France, beating Iceland and losing to Austria.

On paper, the Swiss were handed a favourable group in their bid to reach the 2019 finals, with Scotland, Poland, Albania and Belarus standing between themselves and France. A solid showing, in which they lost and drew only once in their eight games, saw them finish a close second to Scotland.

Such was their performance in the group they finished as one of the 'best four' second placed sides and were handed a two-legged play-off against Belgium. They emerged victorious, going through on aggregate 3-3 to set up a monumental play-off clash with the Netherlands.

Another two-legged affair turned out to be very one-sided, as a 4-1 aggregate defeat cruelly cost them their place in France after coming so close to reaching their second ever finals.


Belgium

FIFA Ranking: Joint 20th (With Scotland)

Best World Cup Finish: N/A

MARK RALSTON/GettyImages

It was an agonising qualifying campaign for Belgium this year, who came within a whisker of reaching their first ever World Cup Finals.

The side have never been one of the leading nations in international football, yet have seen a steady improvement in results over the past six years, with commendable showing in Euro 2013 and World Cup 2015 qualification.

With the signs of development beginning to show, the Belgian Red Flames reached their first major tournament in 2017 as they qualified for the European Championships. They failed to escape the group stages, but expectations were already surpassed. It was felt the 2019 edition was going to be the side's first taste of a World Cup, with a second-place finish in their qualifying group behind Italy still offering them at chance of reaching the coveted tournament.

Unfortunately, the aforementioned Switzerland halted them from having a final crack of the whip, after a 3-3 aggregate defeat cost them a chance of a play-off final. A 2-2 draw in Belgium had the pendulum swung in the Swiss' favour, and they were unable to turn it around, crashing out on away goals.


Iceland

FIFA Ranking: 22nd

Best World Cup Finish: N/A

Matthias Hangst/GettyImages

Finishing as runners up in your qualifying group tends not be the end of the line for most countries, just as long as you performed well on your way to second spot.


For Iceland, few would have backed them to challenge group favourites Germany for top spot. Their campaign started off magnificently, however, with an 8-0 thumping of Faroe Islands followed by a stunning 3-2 away win over the Gerfootballing giants.

What proved to be their downfall during the group was two disappointing draws to Czech Republic. Granted, two draws and one defeat in eight games is by no means a failure, however,  it ended up being just that as their 17-point haul was not enough to earn them a place among the four best second-placed sides across the groups - due to their results against the Czechs.

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