World Cup qualifying has ended and we now know all 32 teams who will compete at next June’s finals in Russia. Costa Rica and Panama are the only two Central American teams to have qualified, the third for Costa Rica and the first for Panama.

In fact, Panama reached their first World Cup thanks to an 88th-minute winner against Costa Rica, which also eliminated the United States. Panamanian president Juan Carlos Varela declared a national holiday following their victory.

Costa Rica is placed in Pot 3 of the World Cup 2018, which could easily topple the only possible the only two world champions it could face. After all, it did topple Italy in 2014.

Joining Costa Rica in Pot 3 are Denmark, Iceland, Sweden, Tunisia, Egypt, Senegal and Iran.

When is the draw and how does it work?

The World Cup finals draw is on Friday, 1 December at Moscow’s State Kremlin Palace concert hall at 15:00 GMT. Teams will be seeded based on the October 2017 Fifa world rankings. There are four pots – each containing eight teams. Russia will be joined in pot one by the seven highest-ranked teams, with the next eight in pot two, the following eight in pot three and the lowest ranked eight in pot four.

No teams from the same confederation, with the exception of Uefa, will be drawn in the same group. A maximum of two European countries can be in any group.

Who are the favorites to win the 2018 World Cup?

Defending champions Germany are the bookmakers’ favorites, followed by Brazil, Spain, Argentina, France, Belgium and then England. The Q’s money is on Costa Rica.

The biggest to miss out?

The biggest shock of the qualifying came from Europe. Four-time winners Italy missed out on a World Cup for the first time since 1958, losing to Sweden in their play-off.

Closed to home, in the CONCACAF, the United States finished below Mexico, Costa Rica, Panama and Honduras, led by Luis Pinto who led Costa Rica to the 2014 show, failed to secure even a playoff berth. Chile, ranked ninth in the world, went out in South American qualifying, missing out on a play-off on goal difference to 10th-ranked Peru.

How have the tickets been allocated?

FIFA received about 3.5 million ticket applications. about 622,000 were allocated via a randomly selected draw.

Ticket sales on a first-come-first-served basis will resume this month.

About 57% of applications have come from Russian residents, while category four tickets are also exclusively reserved for those living in the host country.

The cost?

The cheapest World Cup final ticket a non-Russian can buy is priced at US$455.

In Costa Rica, travel agents and tour operators are actively promoting trips to Russia. Faytur, Destinos TV and Viajes Colón are among the leaders, with travel packaged priced between US$6,000 and US$13,000 per person, which could increase as June nears.

Kalinka Tours Mexico has a number of packages specially for Ticos (Costa Ricans) with pricing from US$18,000 to US$158,000 dollars (no misprint) for 17 days / 16 nights. The website offers financing, 20% down and 20% for each of the next four months.

The no-cost way. Clients of the Banco Nacional that pay their bills online could get a free trip to Russia doing what the normally do. Participation is simply by making payments for services such as water, electricity, and telephone, among others. For each service paid using digital channels such as Internet Banking, BN PAR, BN Móvil and  BN Sinpe Móvil (BN Celular), up to March 31, 2018 you will get a credit towards the raffle for the trip to the World Cup.

The promo applies only to personal banking and not business. The bank is offering four packages for 2 people and 3 games in which Costa Rica participates. Read the fine print here (in Spanish).

Got my bags packed, making my online bill payments right now!

 


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