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|Teams||121 (from 6 confederations)|
|Goals scored||801 (2.6 per match)|
|Top scorer(s)||Preben Elkjaer Larsen (8 goals)|
A total of 121 teams entered the 1986 FIFA World Cup qualification rounds, competing for a total of 24 spots in the final tournament. Mexico, as the hosts, and Italy, as the defending champions, qualified automatically, leaving 22 spots open for competition. The draw took place on 7 December 1983 at Zürich, Switzerland.
The 24 spots available in the 1986 World Cup would be distributed among the continental zones as follows:
A total of 110 teams played at least one qualifying match. A total of 308 qualifying matches were played, and 801 goals were scored (an average of 2.60 per match).
To see the dates and results of the qualification rounds for each continental zone, click on the following articles:
The two teams would play against each other on a home-and-away basis. The winner qualified for the 1986 FIFA World Cup.
|Team 1||Agg.||Team 2||1st leg||2nd leg|
The following 24 teams qualified for the 1986 FIFA World Cup:
|Team||Finals appearance||Streak||Last appearance|
(h) – qualified automatically as hosts
(c) – qualified automatically as defending champions
11 of the 24 teams subsequently failed to qualify for the 1990 finals: Algeria, Bulgaria, Canada, Denmark, France, Hungary, Iraq, Morocco, Northern Ireland, Paraguay, Poland and Portugal. Mexico would be banned from competing in the 1990 finals due to the Cachirules scandal, bringing the total number of teams who did not qualify for the subsequent tournament to 12.