The preliminaries in numbers
On Saturday, the eyes of the footballing world will be on Rio de Janeiro’s Marina da Gloria as 166 nations await their destiny in the Preliminary Draw for the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™. As the big day edges closer, FIFA.com looks at some eye-catching statistics from the qualifying competition's history as well as a few records likely to crash en route to Brazil 2014.
19.3 million fans, a record number, clicked through the turnstiles during the 2010 preliminary campaign, producing an unsurpassed average attendance of 23,000. Leading the way in this respect were Mexico and England, whose home fixtures attracted around 82,000 and 80,000 spectators per match respectively.
162 thousand and 764 was the incredible record attendance recorded at the Maracana in 1977 for a FIFA World Cup qualifier between Brazil and Colombia.
16448 goals have been scored in the 78 years of FIFA World Cup qualifying, an average of 2.92 per game.
5,602 players, 310 referees and 650 assistants took part in the 2010 preliminaries.
1500 people, including a 600-strong band of volunteers, will be involved in the staging of Saturday's Preliminary Draw.
824 matches are scheduled for the Brazil 2014 preliminary competition, taking the all-time number of FIFA World Cup qualifiers well beyond the 6,000 mark. At the end of the last preliminary competition, the total stood at 5,630, with a record tally of 853 matches having been contested on the road to South Africa.
203 teams, another record high, will take part in the 2014 preliminaries, topping the 200 who participated four years ago. The only associations not to have signed up to compete this time around are Bhutan, Brunei Darussalam, Guam, Mauritania and the tournament hosts, Brazil.
141 FIFA World Cup qualifiers have been contested by Mexico, making El Tri the most experienced of all the preliminaries’ participants. By contrast, the Central African Republic, Comoros, Myanmar and Timor-Leste have all played just two qualifiers and are yet to register their first win.
100 FIFA World Cup qualifiers, a landmark already reached by 40 nations, will be passed by several more during the 2014 campaign, with current champions Spain (currently 99) leading a group that also includes former winners England (92) and France (91), Morocco (98), Poland (96), Canada (95), Iran (94), Cyprus (94) and Saudi Arabia (92).
78 years and one month have passed since Sweden and Estonia contested the very first FIFA World Cup qualifier in Stockholm in June 1933, a game won 6-2 by the hosts.
35 goals in 51 preliminary appearances established Iran legend Ali Daei as the most prolific goalscorer in the history of FIFA World Cup qualifying. The other leading marksmen by confederation are Andriy Shevchenko (Ukraine, 26), Carlos Pavon (Honduras, 25), Hernan Crespo (Argentina, 19), Vaughan Coveny (New Zealand, 19) and Moumouni Dagano (Burkina Faso, 18).
31 unanswered goals against American Samoa in April 2001 gave Australia the biggest win ever seen in a FIFA World Cup preliminary match.
25 qualifying meetings between Mexico and USA have established this fiercely-contested North American derby as the FIFA World Cup preliminary competition’s most-played fixture.
19 consecutive qualifying competitions, Brazil 2014 being the latest, have involved Luxembourg, Portugal and Republic of Ireland, the only nations to have competed in all 18 to date.
9 seconds was the time at which San Marino's Davide Gualtieri scored the fastest goal seen in FIFA World Cup qualifying – a shock opener against England in 1993.
8 teams remained unbeaten throughout the 2010 preliminaries: Côte d’Ivoire, Germany, Italy, Korea Republic, Nigeria, Spain, the Netherlands and, most surprisingly, the British Virgin Islands, who crashed out on the away goals rule following two draws against the Bahamas.
7 nations - Argentina, Brazil, Germany, Italy, Korea Republic, Spain and USA – have qualified for each of the last six FIFA World Cups.
2 years and five months is how long the 2014 FIFA World Cup preliminary competition is scheduled to last. The qualifiers began on 15 June 2011 and are due conclude on 19 November 2013.
2 defeats in 74 qualifiers have ensured Germany’s reputation as the preliminary competition’s most successful nation. The Germans go into the 2014 campaign averaging 2.46 points and 2.9 goals per game.