....and a place secured for next year’s WC tournament in Russia.

It sounds like the writer of the article is one of those most frequent C. Queiroz assaulter which has ISP as its shelter!

FIFA does not release official participation data for national associations, but the continued strength of the brands of European clubs in Asia suggests that the enthusiasm for the game has not dwindled. A more obvious cause is the lack of regular competition for the continent’s top sides. Tom Byer, an administrator who has worked with both China and Japan, has argued that the gap between the stronger nations and the rest makes qualifying too easy and the step-up to the World Cup too great, a problem that will persist “until we, Asia, the AFC, can start developing some of these other teams, these fringe countries that are starting to break through”.