Just when you’ve got your head around the fact that Scotland – yes, Scotland – could feasibly be taking part in next summer’s World Cup and not grinding their teeth in the direction of the other home nations like usual, there are incredibly some even smaller football nations heading for Russia.
The Tartan Army are getting rightly excited about their Group F resurrection and victory in Sunday’s final qualifier in Slovenia will send them into the play-offs. Nothing except torment would do of course, and their late, late goal last night against Slovakia gives them the edge.
Now forgetting for a moment the Scots canny ability to fall just short in anything sporting, their possible appearance at a first World Cup since 1998 leaves us asking if they could be the most marvellous minnows of them all?
Well, no. There’s still so many tiny nations getting closer to boarding the plane. So who could England be drawing 0-0 with in the first group game in June?
Africa gives us some great names – like Burkina Faso, who currently sit top of Group D. Unheard of on the international scene outside the African Cup of Nations, the 49th-ranked Stallions are hoping to win the race to Russia.
But if they don’t we could be seeing another surprise name instead. Cape Verde are second in that group and looking to make their first ever World Cup. Sitting a lowly 67th in the world rankings, they have climbed from outside the top 200 at the turn of the millennium.
In Group E, Egypt are on top but don’t rule out Uganda finishing with a flourish. Zambia are also still in with a shout in Group B but Nigeria know what they’re doing and are qualification specialists.
It’s a two-way fight for top place in Group A and Tunisia are trying to hold off the challenge of the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Already there are Saudi Arabia and Iran, with Syria and Australia engrossed in a play-off battle.
One name that could of course be missing from is Argentina. There may not be Messi but incredibly we could still have Panama.
With two games to go they have a one point advantage over the USA and Honduras and are still on course for one of the stories of qualification history.