The draw for the 2022 World Cup will take place in Doha on April 1, and will determine which teams will face each other at the tournament later this year. Here, Xpooze Global News explains how the remaining places in the tournament will be filled and how the draw will work.
Who has qualified so far?
Europe: England, Germany, Denmark, France, Croatia, Belgium, Spain, Serbia, Switzerland, Holland, Portugal, Poland
South America: Brazil, Argentina, Ecuador, Uruguay
Africa: Cameroon, Ghana, Morocco, Senegal, Tunisia
Asia: Qatar (hosts), South Korea, Iran, Japan, Saudi Arabia
North and Central America: Canada, USA, Mexico
What still needs to be decided?
The final European spot will not be filled until later this year, as Scotland’s play-off semi-final against Ukraine has been postponed due to the war in Ukraine. The winner of that match will face Wales in Cardiff in a subsequent play-off final.
In the Asia qualifying section, Australia and United Arab Emirates will face each other in a playoff match, with the winner then going up against Peru for a place in Qatar.
Costa Rica, who finished fourth in the North and Central American region, will face New Zealand — winners of the Oceania region — in a play-off.
All play-off matches are scheduled to take place in June, although there is still uncertainty over Ukraine’s meeting with Scotland. Steve Clarke, the Scotland manager, has expressed doubts over whether the game will indeed take place on its rearranged date in June, given the situation in Ukraine.
How are the pots determined?
The 29 qualified teams and three “play-off spot placeholders” will be allocated to four pots of eight teams each, based on the Fifa world rankings released following the conclusion of this week’s international fixtures.
The highest-ranked seven teams will go into Pot 1, along with hosts Qatar. Teams ranked eight to 15 will be placed into Pot 2. Teams ranked 16 to 23 will go into Pot Three, while Pot Four will include teams ranked 24 upwards and the three “play-off spot placeholders”.
Can teams from the same continent play each other?
Fifa says its “general principle”, wherever possible, is to make sure that no group has more than one team from the same “qualification zone” drawn into it. Brazil, for example, cannot be drawn into the same group as Uruguay.
However, this principle does not apply to teams from Europe. There will be 13 European teams in Qatar, which means that five out of the eight World Cup groups will contain two European sides. There cannot be more than two European teams in one group. These geographic principles will also apply to the “play-off placeholder slots”.
Best case scenario for England
Mexico: Finished second in Concacaf qualifying, ahead of the United States, but not the force they once were. Coached by Tata Martino, the former Barcelona manager. Wolves striker Raul Jimenez leads the line.
Iran: A third consecutive World Cup appearance for Iran, who were the first team to qualify from the Asia region. The man to watch is Porto striker Mehdi Taremi — he has 27 goals in 57 international caps.
New Zealand: Face a play-off against Costa Rica but will cause few headaches were they to progress. Chris Wood, the Newcastle United striker, is the most recognisable name.
Worst case scenario for England
Germany: Always a side to be feared, even if England defeated them at last summer’s European Championship. Germany have strength and experience at the back, and plenty of pace in attack.
Senegal: Winners of their first-ever Africa Cup of Nations earlier this year, and unquestionably Africa’s most formidable team. Sadio Mane, Edouard Mendy, Ismaila Sarr and Kalidou Koulibaly are top-class players.
Peru: Need to navigate a play-off match in order to confirm their place in Qatar. South American qualifiers are notoriously difficult and they did well to finish ahead of Colombia and Chile.
What does the ranking system mean for the home nations?
England are guaranteed to be among the top seeds due to their world ranking of fifth. Also certain of a place in Pot 1 are Qatar, Belgium, France, Brazil, Argentina and Spain.
Germany, who are currently ranked at 11, will go into Pot 2 and could therefore be drawn against England in the group stages. Holland and Croatia also represent two potentially tricky opponents in the second pot.
If either Scotland or Wales make it to Qatar ahead of Ukraine, they will go into Pot 4. They can therefore expect to be handed a tough draw, on paper at least.