Qualification history
Aruba, formerly a part of the Netherlands Antilles, have failed to set the Caribbean region alight in the qualifying stages of the FIFA World Cup™. Last time out, chasing a spot in the group stages of the CONCACAF Zone for Brazil 2014, they were sent packing in heartbreaking fashion, losing on penalties after drawing 6-6 with St. Lucia over two legs. But now, after a bump in the FIFA/Coca-Cola world ranking and some improved all-around results, Aruba begin their qualifying campaign for Russia 2018 in the second round, where they take on a rugged side from Barbados.

The team
Aruba is a humble team comprised of mostly home-based amateurs and a smattering from the lower levels of the Netherlands professional and semi-pro ranks. It is a transition moment for Aruba’s national team and most of the players in the squad are on the younger side, with only a handful over the age of 30.

The coach
Giovanni Franken is well acquainted with the ins and outs of football in Aruba. He came up through the youth system at Dutch giants Feyenoord and has represented his national team (and previously the Netherlands Antilles) as a player. In addition to playing for a raft of club sides in Aruba, he lined up for three seasons with RKC Waalvijk in the Netherlands, where he also has coaching experience in the lower leagues.

The stat
0 –
The number of CONCACAF Gold Cups and Caribbean Cups that Aruba have qualified for, which does not bode well for their Russia 2018 hopes.

The former stars
Ikel Lopez