2022 World Cup Draw And What It Means For Ireland ; Everything you need to know about dates, pots and who Ireland could face.
After a tough footballing year for the Republic Of Ireland, they will now set their sights on 2021. With the Euro qualifying campaign ending in utter heartbreak in a playoff penalty shootout with the Slovakians.
Kenny’s men have had the worst slump in over 50 years in which his team can’t score. They have gone nearly 11hrs of football without a goal to show for it. However, nobody said it was going to be easy for Stephen Kenny.
He has taken over an aging squad that is in a transition period. Kenny and Ireland now look to put this year behind them and push on to the 2022 World Cup Qualifiers. Ireland’s poor run at the end of this year means they have dropped into pot 3.
As a result, it makes their potential group that much more difficult come March.
Let’s take a look at everything you need to know about the upcoming World Cup draw. And what it could mean for Ireland with the best and worst possible outcomes.
When is the draw?
The World Cup qualifying draw will take place in FIFA headquarters in Zurich, Switzerland. The draw will commence at 5 pm. Unfortunately, due to the coronavirus, no countries representatives will be present, and the draw is to be broadcast virtually.
What Do The Seeding Pots Look Like?
There are five pots in the draw. The best teams in the world rankings all will make up pot one. Each pot is made up of slightly worse teams that filters right down to pot 5.
Pot 1 holds European footballing giants of Belgium, France, England, Portugal, Spain, Italy, Croatia, Denmark, Germany, and the Netherlands. With Ireland falling into pot 3, they slip into a lower grade of footballing sides.
These teams in pot 3 include Russia, Hungary, Czech Republic, Norway, Northern Ireland, Iceland, Scotland, Greece, and Finland. See the full list of teams below and their designated pots.
1st Pot: Belgium, France, England, Portugal, Spain, Italy, Croatia, Denmark, Germany, Netherlands.
2nd Pot: Switzerland, Wales, Poland, Sweden, Austria, Ukraine, Serbia, Turkey, Slovakia, Romania.
3rd Pot: Russia, Hungary, Republic of Ireland, Czech Republic, Norway, Northern Ireland, Iceland, Scotland, Greece, Finland.
4th Pot: Bosnia and Herzegovina, Slovenia, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Albania, Bulgaria, Israel, Belarus, Georgia, Luxembourg.
5th Pot: Armenia, Cyprus, Faroe Islands, Azerbaijan, Estonia, Kazakhstan, Kosovo, Lithuania, Latvia, Andorra.
6th Pot: Malta, Moldova, Liechtenstein, Gibraltar, San Marino.
How Does The Draw Work?
Each team will be drawn one at a time into a group. Each group will be made up of five to six teams, with one team from each pot.
Bigger teams that have qualified for the UEFA Nations League 2021 finals are to be in the five-team groups. These big teams include Belgium, France, Italy, and Spain.
How Does The Qualifiers Work?
In total, thirteen teams will qualify from Europe for the World Cup. Ten of these thirteen teams will be the group winners. Each second-place team will enter a playoff, made up of ten teams.
Included in the playoffs will be two teams from any pot that won their Nations League final and didn’t finish second in qualifying. This twelve-team playoff will be then be made into a draw comprising of three different pathways.
Each team will play a one-legged semi-final and a final. The three winners from the three different paths will progress into the finals in Qatar.
What Are The Dates For The World Cup Qualifiers?
March 2021: Matchday 1-3
September 2021: Matchday 4-6
October 2021: Matchday 7-8
November 2021: Matchday 9-10
March 2022: Playoffs
Worst Case Scenario For Ireland
With Ireland recently falling into pot three due to not beating Bulgaria, the task will be a difficult one. Irelands horror scenario would first of all be drawn into a five-team group. This essentially eliminates a pot six team that is almost a guaranteed six-pointer with a potential upset.
The worst group Ireland could get would be France, Slovakia, Ireland, Bulgaria, and Kazakhstan.
France, the pot one team, caused Ireland nation wide heartache on two occasions in recent memory. The first being the Henry handball and the second being the three one defeat in the Euro’s.
None the less France, is in terrifying form this year. They topped their Nations League group with five wins and one draw. This was in a strong group alongside Portugal, Croatia, and Sweden.
Slovakia in pot two would be a tricky team to play. Ireland would face them again, having lost in the Euro 2020 playoff semi-final.
Bulgaria in pot three would be a very stubborn team to play against yet again. Bulgaria has been drawn into groups with Ireland numerous times, with most games ending in draws.
Kazakhstan would be Ireland’s best bet at a win in the group. The pot five-team finished bottom of their nations league group but have pulled off results against bigger opposition.
Best Case Scenario For Ireland
On the flip side of the draw, the group could have a very different outcome for Ireland. The best-case scenario for Ireland is to be drawn into a group with England, Ukraine, Luxemburg, Andorra, and San Marino.
With England in pot one, Ireland would have a much better chance against than most pot one teams. Despite Ireland losing three-nil to England in a friendly recently, they would be far better prepared next time out. The team was severely weakened by covid and injuries, and the goals conceded were uncharacteristically sloppy.
Ukraine in pot 2 finished third in a tough Nations League group of Germany and Spain. Strangely enough, the Republic Of Ireland has never played Ukraine in its history. With Ukraine on a slump from the Nations League, now could be the perfect time to face them.
Luxemburg in pot four has not played Ireland since 1987. However, they have played the Irish five times and losing each time. Luxemburg would be a lucky draw to get as they would be one of the lower-ranked pot four teams.
Andorra in pot 5 is a team Ireland has a great record against. Again, however, this would be one of the ideal teams to get from pot 5. This fixture would need to be a six-pointer for Ireland if they would look to qualify.
San Marino in pot 6 is, in terms of FIFA ranking, one of, if not the worst team in the world. Ireland has won every encounter against the sides thus far, the last coming in 2007.
However, San Marino could be the Gibraltar of the last qualifying campaign. A team that sits back in which the Irish struggle to pick up points against.
When Are The World Cup Finals?
Ideally, with Ireland making their way out of either of these scenarios, they would be headed to Qatar. This would be Irelands first appearance o the World stage for nearly 18 years since 2002.
With Qatar’s blistering summer heat, the finals will take place in winter instead. The finals will take place from November 21st to December 18th having previously been played in June.
The tournament is to be reduced down to a twenty-eight day period. The thirty-two teams will play in eight venues across Qatar across five host cities. France, current champions, will be looking to retain their crown.
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