The FIFA World Cup is the biggest tournament in international soccer and is held every four years. Over the years, many countries have had the opportunity to compete in this prestigious tournament and showcase their soccer talents on the world stage. But some countries have only been able to go to the World Cup once.
This article will explore the stories of some of these one-time World Cup participants.
Angola has only been to the FIFA World Cup finals once since it joined FIFA in 1980. That was in 2006. After losing to Portugal and drawing twice with Mexico and Iran, they were eliminated from the competition in the group stage. Flávio scored the tournament's first and only goal for Angola in their final game.
Even though Angola has one of the smallest populations and has only been playing international soccer for a short time, they won their qualifying group by beating Nigeria 4-1 and made it to the World Cup for the first time in their history.
Panama is another country that only qualified once for the FIFA World Cup, the 2018 edition. They directly qualified after securing the third spot in the final round, by beating Costa Rica 2-1 and leapfrogging team USA that lost to Trinidad and Tobago. This meant that after 10 failed qualification campaigns, Panama appeared at the World Cup for the first time in their history.
Panama was drawn into Group G along with Belgium, England, and Tunisia. In their opening match against Belgium, they put up a strong fight but eventually lost 0-3. They then lost 1-6 to England, and in their final match against Tunisia, they were defeated 1-2. As a result, Panama finished last in the group and was eliminated from the tournament.
Even though Panama didn't win a single game at the 2018 World Cup, it was a big deal for the country and made the people of Panama very proud.
Togo made their debut appearance in the 2006 FIFA World Cup, which was held in Germany. They qualified for the tournament by finishing first in their qualifying group, ahead of African soccer powerhouse Senegal.
Togo was drawn into Group G along with France, Switzerland, and South Korea. In their opening match against South Korea, they lost 1-2 after scoring the first goal of the match. In their next match against Switzerland, they put up a strong fight but eventually lost 0-2. Despite also losing their final match against France, Togo's performance in the tournament was seen as a major accomplishment and a source of pride for the country.
Iceland made its FIFA World Cup debut in 2018 after failing 12 consecutive qualification campaigns from 1974 to 2014. The nation first attempted to qualify for the tournament back in 1958. The 2018 FIFA World Cup was Iceland's second major international tournament, having also qualified for UEFA Euro 2016.
They qualified for the tournament by finishing second in their UEFA qualifying group, ahead of countries like Croatia (who also qualified), Ukraine, and Turkey.
Iceland was drawn into Group D along with Argentina, Croatia, and Nigeria. Iceland's first game at the World Cup was against 2014's runner-up, Argentina. Surprisingly, Iceland held Argentina to a 1–1 draw, which was a big surprise. However, their chances of progressing from the group were harmed following a 2-0 loss to Nigeria, with several missed opportunities in the first half and a penalty kick missed by Gylfi Sigurdsson in the second half, forcing Iceland to play with vigour against already qualified Croatia. Unfortunately, Iceland lost to Croatia in their final group game, and because Argentina won against Nigeria, Iceland finished bottom of the group with just one point.
Iceland's appearance in the 2018 World Cup was a historic moment for the country, as it was the first time they had ever qualified for the tournament. The team's performances were widely praised for their fighting spirit and never-say-die attitude, which made them one of the most popular teams among neutral fans. Their fans made an even bigger impression with their trademark Viking Thunderclap.
Trinidad and Tobago
Trinidad and Tobago competed in their first and only FIFA World Cup, which was held in Germany in 2006. They qualified for the tournament by finishing fourth in their CONCACAF qualifying group, behind Mexico, the United States, and Costa Rica, but managed to qualify by beating Bahrain 2-1 on aggregate in the Intercontinental World Cup Play-Off.
Trinidad and Tobago was drawn into Group B along with England, Sweden, and Paraguay. In their opening match against Sweden, they put up a strong fight but eventually tied 0-0. They then lost 0-2 to England and 0-2 to Paraguay in their final matches, resulting in their elimination from the tournament.