Qualification history
Bahrain embarked on their first FIFA World Cup™ qualifying campaign in 1978, but it was not until 2002 that they reached the final AFC group phase. In November 2005, Al-Ahmar made it to the intercontinental play-off for Germany 2006, but lost a closely contested tie to Trinidad and Tobago, while in late 2009, after repeating the feat, they came up against a solid New Zealand side, who triumphed through a second-leg goal in Wellington and booked a spot at South Africa 2010 at their Asian opponents’ expense.

The team
The Bahrainis went into their Brazil 2014 campaign with a revamped team, which may explain their failure to advance to the final round. Some judicious tinkering to the squad subsequently led to their qualifying for the 2015 AFC Asian Cup in Australia, where they were knocked out at the group stage despite picking up a win versus Qatar. The Reds will approach the upcoming second round of Asian matches for 2018 World Cup qualification with a mixture of trepidation and confidence, as they attempt to make history by advancing to football’s most prestigious competition for the first time.

The coach
Following on from Englishman Anthony Hudson, Iraqi Adnan Hamad and Bahraini Marjan Eid, Sergio Batista, who won the 1986 World Cup as a player with Argentina, was appointed to the role of national coach in May 2015.

The stat
2 –
The number of times that Bahrain have taken part in an intercontinental play-off for a place at the World Cup.

The former stars
Ahmed Salmin, Hamood Sultan, Fouad Bushegir, Aala Hubail, Talal Yousef, Salman Issa, Rashid Al Dosari