Five biggest underdogs to have qualified for Russia 2018

Panama players celebrate with fans after qualifying for the World Cup for the first time ever, in their qualifier football match Costa Rica in Panama City, on October 10, 2017.

Italy and Chile won't be there but some new names at the World Cup finals in 2018, here are five underdogs who qualified against the odds.

Eric Dier of England and Gabriel Jesus of Brazil battle for possession during the international friendly match between England and Brazil at Wembley Stadium on November 14, 2017 in London,...Eric Dier of England and Gabriel Jesus of Brazil battle for possession during the international friendly match between England and Brazil at Wembley Stadium on November 14, 2017 in London,...

There will be some unfamiliar faces at the 2018 FIFA World Cup finals in Russia. The usual suspects like Brazil, Germany and Argentina etc will be hoping to win the trophy while, as ever there'll be other dark horses such as Colombia and Croatia who will hope to make a splash, but qualifying has produced some wonderful stories before the tournament has even began. Here are the five best underdog stories of the 2018 World Cup qualifying campaign: 

Panama

Panama will be be making their World Cup debut in Russia. The Central American nation with a population of just four million were un-fancied given their modest squad. They finished third in the final group stage of CONCACAF qualifying with victory over Costa Rica, which saw them finish above Honduras and USA who have stronger, more experienced squads with World Cup pedigree. Panama will be no whipping boys in Russia. They've held the likes of Wales, USA and Mexico this year.

Panama players Luis Ovalle (L) and Fidel Escobar celebrate after Panama qualifes for the World Cup for the first time ever, in their qualifier football match Costa Rica in Panama City, on...Panama players Luis Ovalle (L) and Fidel Escobar celebrate after Panama qualifes for the World Cup for the first time ever, in their qualifier football match Costa Rica in Panama City, on...

Sweden

Sweden may not be a country you'd be too shocked to see at the finals but the way they did it was quite remarkable. Not only did they lose their all time top scorer Zlatan Ibrahimovic to retirement, they also drew France and Netherlands. Despite a 2-1 victory over France, they finished four points behind Les Bleus but crucially, pipped the Netherlands to a play-off spot, helped by an 8-0 victory over Luxembourg. 

They then met Italy who've been at every World Cup since 1958 and prematurely ended Gianluigi Buffon's international career with a famous 1-0 aggregate victory. 

Jakob Johansson of Sweden celebrates after scoring the opening goal with his team mates during the FIFA 2018 World Cup Qualifier Play-Off: First Leg between Sweden and Italy at Friends...Jakob Johansson of Sweden celebrates after scoring the opening goal with his team mates during the FIFA 2018 World Cup Qualifier Play-Off: First Leg between Sweden and Italy at Friends Arena

Morocco

Morocco have qualified for their first World Cup since 1998. They had arguably the toughest group in CAF qualifying. Ivory Coast, who have reached the previous three World Cups, Gabon who boast one of the best strikers in the World in Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang and Mali who are no mugs. Morocco topped the lot without losing a game. An impressive 2-0 away win at Ivory Coast sealed their place. 

Morocco's team players celebrate at the Felix Houphouet-Boigny stadium in Abidjan on November 11, 2017, at the end of the FIFA World Cup 2018 Africa Group C qualifying football match...Morocco's team players celebrate at the Felix Houphouet-Boigny stadium in Abidjan on November 11, 2017, at the end of the FIFA World Cup 2018 Africa Group C qualifying football match...

Iceland

Iceland already have a reputation for upsetting the odds. After an unbeaten Euro 2016 group phase, they humiliated England on that famous night in Nice. They were dealt another difficult hand for the World Cup campaign - drawing Croatia, Ukraine and Turkey, all teams who have previous World Cup experience at the latter stages of the tournament. A play-off spot was certainly not out of their reach but no one would have begrudged them if they finished third. They ended up topping the group by two points and are now looking to cause more shocks in Russia. 

TOPSHOT - Iceland's players including Iceland's forward Johann Berg Gudmundsson (L) and Iceland's forward Alfred Finnbogason celebrate after the FIFA World Cup 2018 qualification football...TOPSHOT - Iceland's players including Iceland's forward Johann Berg Gudmundsson (L) and Iceland's forward Alfred Finnbogason celebrate after the FIFA World Cup 2018 qualification football...

Saudi Arabia 

Saudi Arabia have reached the World Cup for the first time since 2006. Since reaching the last 16 in 1994, Saudi Arabia have only picked up two points the three World Cups they've played in since.

Saudi Arabia players celebrate their 1-0 victory and qualified for the FIFA World Cup Russia after the FIFA World Cup qualifier match between Saudi Arabia and Japan at the King Abdullah...Saudi Arabia players celebrate their 1-0 victory and qualified for the FIFA World Cup Russia.

They've been away in the wilderness a bit in the past decade but finished just a point behind first placed Japan and qualified automatically in second position ahead of Australia. A 1-0 win over Japan was one of the highlights of the campaign. 

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