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With the 2017 Gabon Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers and the 2016 Nelson Mandela Challenge now something of the past, Bafana Bafana are shifting focus and are gearing up for perhaps their toughest mission over the next few months – the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia — Preliminary  Competition  African  Zone (qualifiers for the 2018 World Cup).

South Africa has been drawn in Group D alongside Burkina Faso, Senegal and Cape Verde, with only one team due to qualify for Russia 2018. 

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Euro Cup finalists France have made a stuttering start to their 2018 World Cup qualifying campaign as they were held to a goalless draw by Belarus in Borisov.

Belarus started off on a strong note and played some solid football in the first half by not allowing the French players to penetrate their backline. They also moved to threaten Deschamps' team with some counter attacking football.

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A three-goal effort was not enough after Canada finished in third place in CONCACAF Group A of 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia Qualifiers. Canada won 3:1 over El Salvador, but were eliminated after Honduras drew 0:0 away against Mexico in the other group match on the final night of the semi-final round.

Cyle Larin, Nik Ledgerwood, and David Edgar were the goal scorers as Canada pushed forward in an effort to close the goal difference against second-place Honduras. The match was played in front of a boisterous crowd of 20,726 at BC Place in Vancouver.

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Ukraine started their football World Cup 2018 qualifying campaign with a 1-1 home draw with Iceland at the Olympic stadium in Kiev.

Iceland found the lead on Monday night via a strike from Alfred Finnbogason in the fifth minute. Andriy Yarmolenko scored the equaliser for Ukraine in the 49th minute.

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In the depressing atmosphere of the empty stands of Maksimir Stadium in Zagreb, Croatian footballers opened their qualifying campaign for the World Cup 2018 in Russia drawing 1-1 against Turkey.

Just three months after their opening match at Euro 2016 in France, the Croatian and Turkish national teams clashed again at the beginning of World Cup 2018 qualifiers. Croatian fans fondly remembered that June day in Paris when Luka Modric's long range strike was enough to beat Turkey at full stadium Parc des Princes.

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Veteran Juventus defender Dani Alves has credited new Brazil coach Tite for boosting morale within the Selecao squad. Tite replaced Dunga as national team boss after Brazil's group phase elimination from the Copa America in June.

In the 55-year-old's first game in charge on Thursday, Brazil posted their first win in a World Cup qualifier in Quito, beating Ecuador 3-0.

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Teenager Gabriel Jesus struck twice on his full international football debut and set up another goal as Brazil defeated 10-man Ecuador 3-0 in their 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifier.

Neymar scored the opener at the Estadio Olimpico by converting a 72nd-minute spot kick after Jesus was felled by goalkeeper Alexander Dominguez. Juan Carlos Paredes was sent off shortly after when he received a second yellow card for a challenge on Renato Augusto.

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