During the current international break, four countries could qualify for next summer’s World Cup for the first time in their history: Bosnia-Herzegovina, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia and Montenegro. While a two-leg playoff against Algeria and Nigeria, respectively, stands in the way of Burkina Faso and Ethiopia qualifying out of Africa, Bosnia and Montenegro can only qualify directly by topping their European qualifying groups. Second-place would mean a two-leg playoff with a second-place team from another European qualifying group during the November international break.
Bosnia is currently top of Group G thanks to a superior goal difference with Greece. It must win its final two matches against Liechtenstein at home and Lithuania away in order to secure automatic qualification. Montenegro, meanwhile, is second in Group H, one point behind leader England and tied with third-place Ukraine. The key match for the small country, whose population is less than 1 million, is Friday’s clash at Wembley against England. Montenegro’s final match at home to Moldova is expected to be an easy three points, so a win at away to England would all but secure automatic qualification for the former Yugoslav republic.
“I think they have more pressure than us because they are expected to win -- and they expect to win,” Manchester City’s Montenegran forward Stefan Jovetic said. “The fact we have drawn three times with England gives us confidence for this game and the fact we have Moldova at home. England have us and then Poland. I think it is going to be a big fight to see which country goes through.”