By Ray Hamill
So what is it Russia, Brazil, Japan and Iran have in common when it comes to soccer?
Not a whole lot actually, but they are the first four teams to qualify for next year’s World Cup Finals.
I’m not sure which is more surprising, mentioning Iran and Japan in the same breath as Brazil, or the fact we are now less than a year away from the finals.
Where does the time go?
A grand total of 210 countries began the quest for qualification two years ago, and the final field will be slimmed down to 32 within the next two months.
A number of countries, including the United States, are likely to secure their place in the coming days with several key matchups on tap.
The tournament, hosted by Russia, will kick off in June of next year.