The FIFA world cup is a golden opportunity for the nations to showcase their strength on an international stage. With their pride at stake, 32 qualified nations compete every once in a 4-year interval. With no regulation on the size of the country and its population, everyone has a fair and square chance to get into the qualifiers.
Henceforth, every time we get to witness nations with very little manpower but heroic strength compete and even many times qualify for the group stages. Here are the top 5 smallest nations to qualify for the FIFA World Cup.
After conquering the 1980 AFC Asian Cup, the Kuwait National Football Team carried on their momentum and qualified for the 1982 FIFA World Cup group stages for the first time. The country then only had a mere population of 1.5 million and ended up in the 21st position on the table.
4. Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland Football Team’s first appearance was marked in the 1958 FIFA World Cup. Under the leadership of Danny Blanchflower, the team had an incredible run in the playoffs and qualified for the finals. This put them in the quarter-finals against the current FIFA World Cup Champions, France. They had to face defeat by a margin of 4 goals and were eliminated from the tournament.
Northern Ireland became the least populous country to qualify for the FIFA World Cup in 1958 with an estimated population of 1.4 million.
3. Trinidad and Tobago
Coming from the Caribbean Island cluster, the twin-island nation Trinidad and Tobago was the smallest nation to qualify for the World Cup in 2006. The Soca Warriors played 20 matches and won 11 to qualify for the 2006 FIFA World Cup.
They ended up in the 27th position at the end of the tournament. The country had a minuscule population of 1.3 million.
Paraguay has qualified for the World Cup a total of 8 times in the past. Their best performance was in the 2010 FIFA World Cup where they reached the Quarter Finals for the first time.
Although Paraguay was invited to the first-ever World Cup in 1930, they were the smallest country to play the World Cup with a population of just 900,000.
The latest FIFA World Cup in 2018, saw a new country enter the group stages. This was Iceland’s first appearance in the FIFA World Cup. In spite of the fact that the Iceland National Football Team ended up in the bottom four, it holds the record for being the smallest ever team to qualify for the World Cup. Iceland had a population of 353,000 while the time of its qualification.