So when does a minnow actually stop being labelled as one? Can they progress up to the next level? A quick look at Turkey’s qualifying campaigns in the 80’s shows 8-0 and 6-0 defeats to Bobby Robson’s England side. The same nation went on to finish 3rd 20 years later at the World Cup in South Korea and Japan.
Recent progression can be found in the modern game’s current set of underdogs, Azerbaijan offering a promising example. In the 00′s, Milli, consistently finished bottom of their group, registering heavy losses like the 6-1 home defeat to Serbia or the 8-0 hammering in Poland. The side’s 2014 qualifying campaign was remarkably better, holding Russia to a 1-1 draw at home and finishing 4th above Northern Ireland. OK, not the cream of Europe but evidence of improvement and competitiveness. [READ MORE]