Image 1 of 10: Italy 1934: The 1st edition (following the launch in 1930) of the cup that required teams to qualify. Egypt qualified after beating Mandatory Palestine, a team of 9 Englishmen, 6 Jews & 1 Arab. Egypt lost 4-2 to Hungary in a game marred by poor refereeing. Goalkeeper Mustafa Mansou – the Flying Egyptian – impressed on the world stage.
Image 1 of 10: Mexico 1970: In the 1st tournament to be broadcast across the world, Morocco’s Houmane Jarir stunned West Germany by scoring the opening goal in the 21st minute of their first game. In a spirited display, Morocco went down 2-1 to the Deutsch. They lost 3-0 to Peru and drew 1-1 with Bulgaria and left their mark on the tournament.
Image 1 of 10: Argentina 1978: With their short pass game, the Tunisian team is remembered for its flair. The Eagles were the first team to be managed by an African. They stunned Mexico 3-1 before losing narrowly to a strong Polish team and drawing with West Germany. The team created a new record - for the number Mashallahs elicited from the audience!
Image 1 of 10: Spain 1982: Germany mocked Algeria before the cup saying they would “dedicate the seventh goal to their wives and the eighth to their dogs.” Algeria defeated the Germans and barking ceased. They beat Chile 3-2 and were favored to progress. Alas, they were knocked out due to a shameful display of match fixing between Germany and Austria.
Image 1 of 10: Mexico 1986: The Arab-heavy edition-- this was the first cup to feature three Arab teams: Morocco, Algeria and Iraq. Morocco tied their first two games, before overwhelming Portugal 3-0. They went out to eventual finalists Germany 0-1. Even though this was Maradona’s Cup, the Moroccans did enough to impress.
Image 1 of 10: Italy 1990: Egypt returned after a 56 year absence to a low scoring group in a low scoring tournament. Egypt drew with the highly rated Dutch team and the Irish before losing to England 0-1. Not so great: UAE qualified as well. The games featuring the Emiratis were among the highest scoring affairs in the cup -- with UAE failing to sparkle
Image 1 of 10: USA 1994: The Saudi forwards gushed more smoothly than one of their oil wells to progress to the second round. Saaed Al-Owairian weaved his way through what appeared to be the entire Belgian team. The Saudis beat the Moroccans to progress to the second round. However, both nerves and Swedes got the better of the valiant team in the second round.
Image 1 of 10: France 1998: The Moroccans impressed. They lost to Brazil - but there’s no shame in that. The Lions drew with Norway, and all looked well when they were up 3-0 against Scotland. However, they were eliminated by the narrowest of margins. The Saudi team sucked. There’s no other word. They lost to Netherlands and were blanked 0-4 by the French.
Image 1 of 10: South Korea/ Japan 2002, Germany 2006 & South Africa 2010: Saudi Arabia and Tunisia qualified for the first two editions of the new millennium while Algeria made it to the third. You know what they say -- just showing up is half the battle won. And that’s what these teams won -- half a battle.
Image 1 of 10: Brazil 2014: Matters seemed to have gone awry for Algeria in their qualifier against Burkina Faso. However, in the 49th minute, the Algerian skipper conjured a goal to guide his team to Brazil. Can this team invoke the spirit of 1982? With players Sofiane Feghouli, Ishak Belfodil, Saphir Taïder, and Madjid Bougherra, they have the potential.
So it's official. Algeria will represent Middle East in the World Cup. The Algerians went through by the narrowest of margins after a 49th minute scramble by skipper Madjid Bougherra helped them beat Burkina Faso 1-0.
There were other teams that glittered in the qualifying rounds. Jordan put in a series of stirring performances and came back strongly before bowing out to Uruguay. Don't despair - there's no shame in losing to this South American powerhouse. You only get better by playing the best, and Jordan did well enough to progress this far and meet some of the best teams in the world. Tunisia too kept their march to Brazil alive till they ran into indomitable Cameroonians.
Now that we know just which countries have qualified for the Cup, it's time to take a look back at the Arab teams that shone once they were actually on the world stage. There's so much to choose from -- since 1934, many a team from the Middle East has dazzled during the world's most popular tournament beating more powerful rivals with their discipline and flair.
Let's take a look at 9 of the greatest moments in Arab World Cup history. Let's relive the times when crowds round the world went "Mashallah!". Do agree with our selection? If not, let us know in the comments section below.