Qualification history
Maldives had a disastrous debut qualifying campaign on the road to France 1998, conceding 59 goals in six matches to crash out with zero points. Notably, they were thrashed 26-0 by Iran over two legs for a then-record scoreline. Maldives have since improved though and their ground-breaking achievement came in qualifying for Germany 2006 when they thumped Mongolia 13-0 on aggregate to reach the second round.

The team
The team's core is formed by the players who finished third in the 2014 AFC Challenge Cup. Shouldering the goalscoring tasks are none other than captain Ali Ashfaq, who was on target ten times as Maldives reached the last four in the 2013 SAFF Championship. Shafiu Ahmed and Ahmed Abdulla form a solid defensive partnership, while vice-captain Imran Mohamed is the man entrusted with the key job between the sticks. 

The coach
Having guided New Radiants to an unprecedented treble by winning the league, cup and the Super Cup in 2013, Bulgarian Velizar Popov made a high-profile return to Maldives as he was appointed national team coach at the start of 2015. However, former New Zealand coach Ricki Herbert, who coached the All Whites through an undefeated campaign at the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™, assumed the reins in September 2015 following the resignation of Popov.

The stat
4 - Ashfaq is the team's all-time top-scorer in FIFA World Cup qualifying having scored four times in their 12-0 home defeat of Mongolia.

The former stars
Mohamed Nizam, Ahmed Thariq