FIFA excludes Ghana from preliminary stage of 2018 World Cup qualifiers

FIFA has excluded Ghana from the first round of qualifiers for the 2018 World Cup in Russia thanks to the Black Stars excellent standing in the latest ranking of countries.

Twenty six  countries have been selected to play in the first round of qualifiers and with the Black Stars ranking third in Africa they have been exempted.

According to the regulation of the world governing body, the 26 lowest-ranked countries from Africa will be engaged in a play-off to decide who will join the second phase of qualifiers.

“For Round One, the 26 lowest-ranked participating associations from the region will contest Round One,” FIFA said in a statement released on Thursday.

Those teams will be allocated to two pots of 13 teams based on the FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking of July 2015 which was released on Thursday.

Among the 26 selected countries, the 13 highest ranked teams will face the 13 lowest ranked teams.

They will be then be drawn against each other to play over two legs on a home and away basis between 5 and 13 October 2015.

With Zimbabwe having been expelled from the preliminary competition by the FIFA Disciplinary Committee, Africa sees 53 of its 54 member associations involved in the Preliminary Draw.