2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™

12 June - 13 July

2014 FIFA World Cup™

Six of the best on the road to Brazil

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Over 800 matches made up a remarkable FIFA World Cup™ qualifying campaign which spanned almost two and a half years. It began with Deon McCaulay's hat-trick for Belize against Montserrat in June 2011 and concluded with Uruguay and Jordan's goalless draw last month. 

FIFA.comtakes a look back at six of the best qualifiers from the road to Brazil, with each confederation represented by a standout match.

*Lebanon 2-1 Korea Republic, *

15 November 2011*

Lebanon were drawn to face heavyweights Korea Republic in a tough Asian zone World Cup qualifying group. In the opening match, Cho Kwangrae's men crushed Lebanon 6-0, but the west Asians would have their revenge two months later. Ali Al Saadi's early opener sent the crowd into delirium. Korea levelled through Koo Jacheol's penalty before Abbas Atwi's spot kick put the hosts ahead again.

The second period's combination of Ziad El Samad heroics and poor Korean finishing sparked joyous scenes at the final whistle. Their first victory against the Taeguk Warriors helped Lebanon enter the final round of Asian zone qualifying for the first time.

American Samoa 2-1 Tonga,

22 November 2011*

A run of 30 straight defeats, including a record 31-0 loss to Australia in 2001, had seen American Samoa achieve worldwide infamy. But with a film crew arriving to document the side that embodied the 'true spirit' of football, the tiny Pacific island nation secured their first victory in inspirational fashion.

Although goalscorers Ramin Ott and 17-year-old Shalom Luani will go down in footballing folklore, it was goalkeeper Nicky Salapu whose demons were banished with the victory. The shotstopper, who was in goal for that infamous Socceroos defeat, was elated with the win.

“I feel like a champ right now," he said. "Finally I’m going to put the past behind me.”

**Colombia 3-3 Chile, *11 October 2013

Los *

Cafeteros' *ended their long World Cup finals exile in incredible style. The hosts needed a point against Chile to reach Brazil, and their near two-year competitive unbeaten home run gave them confidence.

However, a disastrous first half saw the Colombian fans despairing at the interval. Arturo Vidal's penalty and an Alexis Sanchez brace had the visitors 3-0 up within half an hour. Carlos Carmona's dismissal kicked off the comeback as Teofilo Gutierrez pulled one back. Radamel Falcao's penalty double then sent Colombia into ecstasy. Coach Jose Pekerman later declared that El Tigre would be "the best player at the World Cup" next summer.

Ghana 6-1 Egypt,15 October 2013
South Africa 2010 quarter-finalists Ghana stood in the way of Egypt's first finals since Italy 1990. The visitors had dominated their group and many expected a tight affair, but Ghana effectively ended Egypt's qualification hopes in the first leg.

Asamoah Gyan strolled through to open the scoring before Wael Gomaa put through his own net. Mohamed Aboutrika pulled one back from the penalty spot before half-time with what he thought was a precious away goal.

However, Majeed Waris struck moments before the break and Gyan, Sulley Muntari and Christian Atsu completed the rout after the interval. Egypt won in Cairo, but Ghana had done the hard work in Kumasi.

Panama 2-3 USA,15 October 2013
The final night of CONCACAF qualifying for Brazil 2014 will go down as one of the most remarkable in footballing history. Jurgen Klinsmann's already-qualified USA sent an experimental side to Panama City. Mexico's earlier defeat meant the Panamanians needed a win to reach the Intercontinental play-off against New Zealand.

Gabriel Torres opened the scoring and the hosts led until Michael Orozco's leveller after the hour. Luis Tejada pounced to send the noise from the Estadio Rommel Fernandez reverberating around the city. However, Graham Zusi rose highest in added time to break Panama hearts before Aron Johannsson completed the turnaround a minute later.

The hosts collapsed to the turf in despair at the final whistle and one of the year's iconic images saw Terrence Boyd consoling Panama's skipper Felipe Baloy after the defeat.

Sweden 2-3 Portugal, *19 November 2013
2013 FIFA Ballon d'Or nominees Cristiano Ronaldo and Zlatan Ibrahimovic faced off in the pick of the European zone play-offs. The first leg saw Ronaldo help his side take a slender lead to Solna.

The tie burst to life in the final quarter, with Ronaldo finishing a swift breakaway. However, Ibrahimovic scored two quickfire goals to put Sweden level on aggregate. Ronaldo, though, was not finished. He broke free of the Swedish defence once more to grab his second before rounding Andreas Isaksson to complete a stunning hat-trick and join Pauleta as Portugal's leading scorer.

A breathless half-hour of football saw two of the games' finest players grab five goals and Ronaldo will display his supreme talents in Brazil. Zlatan's response to defeat? "One thing is for sure: a World Cup without me is not worth watching."

Which games would make your list? Just select 'Add your comment' to Have Your Say, remembering to keep your contributions respectful, on-topic and in English.

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