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1998 World Cup Logo

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Four nations qualified for the first time: Croatia, Jamaica, Japan and South Africa. The last team to qualify was Iran by virtue of beating Australia in a two-legged tie on 29 November 1997. This was Team Melli's first appearance in the finals since 1978, the last time Tunisia also qualified for the tournament. Chile qualified for the first time since 1982, after serving a ban that saw them miss out on the two previous tournaments. Paraguay and Denmark returned for the first time since 1986. Austria, England, Scotland and Yugoslavia returned after missing out on the 1994 tournament, with the Balkan team now appearing under the name of FR Yugoslavia. Among the teams who failed to qualify were two-time winners Uruguay (for the second successive tournament); Sweden, who finished third in 1994; Russia (who failed to qualify for the first time since 1978 after losing to Italy in the play-off round); and the Republic of Ireland, who had qualified for the previous two tournaments. As of 2018, this is the most recent time Austria, Scotland, Norway, Bulgaria, Romania, and Jamaica have qualified for a FIFA World Cup finals, as well as the last time Portugal missed out. The highest ranked team not to qualify was Czech Republic (ranked 3rd), while the lowest ranked team that did qualify was Nigeria (ranked 74th).

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