1990 FIFA World Cup qualification

The qualification competition for the 1990 FIFA World Cup was a series of tournaments organised by the six FIFA confederations. Each confederation — the Asian Football Confederation (AFC), Confederation of African Football (CAF), CONCACAF (North America), CONMEBOL (South America), Oceania Football Confederation (OFC), and UEFA (Europe) — was allocated a certain number of the 24 places at the tournament. A total of 116 teams entered the competition, with Italy, as the host, and Argentina, as the holders, qualifying for the final tournament automatically.

1990 FIFA World Cup Qualification
Tournament details
Teams116 (from 6 confederations)
Tournament statistics
Matches played314
Goals scored735 (2.34 per match)
Top scorer(s)Belgium Marc Van Der Linden
South Korea Hwang Sun-Hong
(7 goals each)

The first qualification match was played on 17 April 1988 and qualification concluded on 19 November 1989. A total of 735 goals were scored in the 314 qualifying matches (an average of 2.34 per match).


At the close of entries on 30 September 1987, a total of 116 football associations had entered the 1990 World Cup. This entry figure was five lower than those who originally entered the previous tournament, a then-World Cup record of 121 entries.

Three entries were rejected by FIFA: Belize, Mauritius and Mozambique due to their outstanding financial debts, taking the number of accepted teams down to 113. With both the hosts and holders qualifying automatically for the finals, 111 nations were therefore scheduled to compete in the qualifying competitions. Gabon, Oman and Pakistan were making their first appearance in the World Cup.

Seven teams withdrew during the qualifying process without playing a match: Bahrain, India, Lesotho, Maldives, Rwanda, South Yemen and Togo. Mexico were disqualified from the CONCACAF qualifying tournament before playing a game for fielding overage players in the qualifying stages for the 1988 Olympic Games. Libya withdrew during the CAF group stage, but had already (successfully) played in the first round. Therefore, the total number of teams playing at least one fixture during the 1990 World Cup competition was 105 (103 during qualifying).

Continental zonesEdit

To see the dates and results of the qualification rounds for each continental zone, click on the following articles:

Group 1 - Romania qualified.
Group 2 - Sweden and England qualified.
Group 3 - Soviet Union and Austria qualified.
Group 4 - Netherlands and West Germany qualified.
Group 5 - Yugoslavia and Scotland qualified.
Group 6 - Spain and Republic of Ireland qualified.
Group 7 - Belgium and Czechoslovakia qualified.
Group 1 - Uruguay qualified.
Group 2 - Colombia advanced to the Intercontinental Play-off.
Group 3 - Brazil qualified.
Costa Rica and United States qualified.
Egypt and Cameroon qualified.
Korea Republic and United Arab Emirates qualified.
Israel advanced to the Intercontinental Play-off.

Inter-confederation play-offs: CONMEBOL v OFCEdit

The winning team of the OFC qualification tournament played the CONMEBOL group winner with the weakest record in a home-and-away play-off. The winner of this play-off qualified for the 1990 FIFA World Cup.

Team 1 Agg. Team 2 1st leg 2nd leg
Colombia   1–0   Israel 1–0 0–0

Qualified teamsEdit

Final qualification status
  Country qualified for World Cup
  Country failed to qualify
  Country did not enter World Cup
  Country not a FIFA member

The following 24 teams qualified for the 1990 FIFA World Cup:

Team Qualified as Appearance
in finals
Previous best performance
  Argentina Champions 10th 5 Winners (1978, 1986)
  Austria UEFA Group 3 Runners-up 6th 1 (Last: 1982) Third place (1954)
  Belgium UEFA Group 7 Winners 8th 3 Fourth place (1986)
  Brazil CONMEBOL Group Winners 14th 14 Winners (1958, 1962, 1970)
  Cameroon CAF Final Round Winners 2nd 1 (Last: 1982) Group Stage (1982)
  Colombia CONMEBOL v OFC Play-off Winners 2nd 1 (Last: 1962) Group Stage (1962)
  Costa Rica CONCACAF Championship Winners 1st 1
  Czechoslovakia UEFA Group 7 Runners-up 8th 1 (Last: 1982) Runners-up (1934, 1962)
  Egypt CAF Final Round Winners 2nd 1 (Last: 1934) First Round (1934)
  England UEFA Group 2 Runners-up 9th 3 Winners (1966)
  Italy Hosts 12th 8 Winners (1934, 1938, 1982)
  South Korea AFC Final Round Winners 3rd 2 Group Stage (1954, 1986)
  Netherlands UEFA Group 4 Winners 5th 1 (Last: 1978) Runners-up (1974, 1978)
  Republic of Ireland UEFA Group 6 Runners-up 1st 1
  Romania UEFA Group 1 Winners 5th 1 (Last: 1970) Group Stage (1930, 1934, 1938, 1970)
  Scotland UEFA Group 5 Runners-up 7th 5 Group Stage (1954, 1958, 1974, 1978, 1982, 1986)
  Spain UEFA Group 6 Winners 8th 4 Fourth place (1950)
  Sweden UEFA Group 2 Winners 8th 1 (Last: 1978) Runners-up (1958)
  United Arab Emirates AFC Final Round Runners-up 1st 1
  United States CONCACAF Championship Runners-up 4th 1 (Last: 1950) Third place (1930)
  Uruguay CONMEBOL Group Winners 9th 2 Winners (1930, 1950)
  Soviet Union UEFA Group 3 Winners 7th 3 Fourth place (1966)
  West Germany UEFA Group 4 Runners-up 12th 10 Winners (1954, 1974)
  Yugoslavia UEFA Group 5 Winners 8th 1 (Last: 1982) Fourth place (1930, 1962)

8 of the 24 teams subsequently failed to qualify for the 1994 finals: Austria, Costa Rica, Czechoslovakia, Egypt, England, Scotland, United Arab Emirates, and Uruguay. Yugoslavia would be banned from the 1994 finals due to sanctions that were imposed on them by the United Nations as a result of the Bosnian War, bringing the total number of teams who failed to qualify for the subsequent tournament to 9.

Top goalscorersEdit

7 goals
6 goals


  • On 12 August 1989, Samuel Okwaraji collapsed and died whilst playing for Nigeria in their qualifying match against Angola, ten minutes before the end.
  • One of the most bizarre incidents in World Cup history occurred on 3 September 1989. During the Brazil vs Chile CONMEBOL qualifying match in Rio de Janeiro, Chile needed victory to retain any hope of qualification, but trailed 0–1 to Brazil. Around twenty minutes into the second half, Chilean goalkeeper Roberto "Cóndor" Rojas fell to the pitch with an apparent injury to his forehead. A firework, thrown from the stands by a Brazilian fan named Rosenery Mello do Nascimento,[1] was smouldering about some yards away. After carrying Rojas off the pitch, the Chilean players and coaches refused to return claiming conditions were not safe, and the match went unfinished. After studying video footage of the match showing that the firework had not made any contact with Rojas, FIFA awarded Brazil a 2–0 win, eliminating Chile from the 1990 World Cup. As punishment, Chile were barred from the qualifying process for the 1994 FIFA World Cup, and Roberto Rojas was banned for life[2] (subsequently lifted in 2001[3]) for his role in falsifying the story simulating an attack by the Brazilian fans. The incident is called the Maracanazo by the Chilean national team since it took place in the Maracanã Stadium.
  • The decisive second leg of the CAF Final Round, tie between Egypt and Algeria in Cairo saw ugly scenes at its conclusion. The game was won 1–0 by Egypt, sending them to the 1990 World Cup at the expense of their opponent. After the final whistle, Algerian players and officials mobbed the referee and threw plant pots into the crowd. At the post-game conference, the Egyptian team doctor was blinded in one eye after being hit with a broken bottle thrown by an Algerian player. This was believed to be star striker Lakhdar Belloumi who was sentenced to prison for this offense, but he denied any wrongdoing and a twenty-year international arrest warrant was eventually quashed in 2009. Teammates had previously testified that reserve goalkeeper Kamel Kadri was instead the culprit.


  1. ^ "Rosenery Mello do Nascimento, a "Fogueteira do Maracanã", tem morte cerebral por aneurisma no Rio aos 45 anos". Cabeça de Cuia (in Portuguese). 2011-06-06. Archived from the original on 2011-09-11. Retrieved 2011-06-06.
  2. ^ Goal.com – Editorial/Comment – Own Goal: Faking Being Hit By Objects Archived 2007-10-15 at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ "FIFA lifts Rojas lifetime ban". CBC Sports. 30 April 2001. Retrieved 9 April 2010.

External linksEdit