World Cup qualifier draw: all you need to know

Ireland will be in pot four when the Russia 2018 draw is made in St Petersburg

The draw for the 2018 World Cup groups will take place in St Petersburg on Saturday. Photograph: Afp

The draw for the 2018 World Cup groups will take place in St Petersburg on Saturday. Photograph: Afp

 

Q: When is the draw?

A: It’s due to start at 4pm on Saturday and is taking place at the Konstantin Palace in St Petersburg, with Russia the host country for the 2018 finals.

Q: Who will Ireland get?

A: Ireland are, unfortunately, in the fourth tier of seeds for the draw. This could leave Martin O’Neill’s side lumbered in another group of death, which at worst could mean being drawn alongside Germany, Italy and Sweden.

England and Wales are both in the top pot of seeds due to their latest Fifa ranking, so should get fairly favourable draws, while Scotland and Northern Ireland will be in the third pot.

All will be hoping to avoid four-time world champions Italy, who are in the second pot, along with France.

Q: How will the European groups look?

A: There will be 52 of the 53 Uefa members in the draw — all except Russia who qualify as hosts. They will be split into seven groups of six teams and two groups of five. Uefa have asked that England be placed in a group of six. The teams in each group will play each other home and away between September 4, 2016 and October 10, 2017.

The nine group winners will qualify for the finals, while the eight best group runners-up will contest four play-off ties in November 2017 with the winner of each also going to Russia.

Q: What else is happening?

A: There will also be draws taking place for various stages of qualifying in the South American, African, CONCACAF and Oceania sections. The Asian draw is well under way already.

South America will have a minimum of four teams in the 2018 finals, with the fifth-placed team from its all-in league system facing a play-off. Africa will have five finalists, CONCACAF (which features North American, Central American and Caribbean nations) will send at least three and Asia will have at least four. Oceania will have one representative at most in the finals.

Q: Anything else?

A: FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke will conduct the draw alongside ‘supermodel and philanthropist’ Natalia Vodianova and TV presenter Dmitry Shepelev.

Vodianova told fifa.com: “As a mother of four children, I know just what the World Cup means. I am sure that on 25 July many football fans all over the world will be inspired not only to support their teams on the road to 2018, but will also enjoy learning more about my country.”

FIFA is expecting 2,000 guests representing 140 member nations, plus around 700 media representatives, to be at the draw.

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