The Eve of the 2022 World Cup Draw


Friday, 1st of April, 19:00 (17:00 BST) Doha, Qatar

The Eve of the 2022 World Cup Draw.

Very soon we will know the first round fixtures of the 2022 FIFA World Cup once the teams are drawn in Doha.

29 of 32 qualifiers have been decided with only the following three places still up for grabs in June:

  1. Winner of Scotland/Ukraine v Wales 
  2. Winner of Costa Rica v New Zealand
  3. Winner of Peru v UAE/Australia
The existing qualifiers have been placed into four pots and each of the eight groups will take one from each. As usual, the pots are based on the latest FIFA World Rankings, with the hosts Qatar placed in the top one.

Pot 1 - Qatar, Brazil, Belgium, France, Argentina, England, Spain, Portugal
Pot 2 - Mexico, Netherlands, Denmark, Germany, Uruguay, Switzerland, USA, Croatia
Pot 3 - Senegal, Iran, Japan, Morocco, Serbia, Poland, South Korea, Tunisia
Pot 4 - Cameroon, Canada, Ecuador, Saudi Arabia, Ghana, the three remaining qualifiers

Teams from the same confederation will be kept apart with the exception of UEFA, as five of the eight groups will have a maximum of two European nations.

It is right the hosts get to head a group, but Qatar's ranking of 58 will encourage teams from the other pots drawn in their group.

Pot 2 looks almost as strong as Pot 1, with two traditional titans Germany and the Netherlands unusually not in the top bracket, again due to their current rankings of 12th and 16th. 

Using the latest FIFA stats is a way of diluting arguments, but can never remove them. Ecuador, for instance, who impressed in the CONMEBOL qualifiers, are in Pot 4 while the USA are in Pot 2.

Of those absent from the big winter party, European champions Italy, ranked 7th in the world, are clearly the biggest fish to miss out, followed by Chile (19th) and Colombia (15th) from South America and African giants Nigeria (32nd) and Algeria (33rd). 

Africa Cup of Nations finalist Egypt (46th) missed out too, depriving Mo Salah, one of the world's greatest players, of the greatest stage. Another top player, Erling Braut Haaland, also misses Qatar as Norway (42nd) finished third in UEFA's Group G.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic, aged 40, will not play in a third World Cup finals after Sweden (18th) lost their playoff to Poland, but at least we can savour the twin titans of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, with a combined age of 71, going for gold for probably the last time.
  • Colombia (15th) were the highest-ranked FIFA nation not to qualify for Qatar. 
  • Canada (70th) are the lowest-ranked qualifier.
  • New Zealand (122nd) are the lowest-ranked team still in with a chance of qualification.
Once the draw is over we will have to wait for the three remaining qualifiers to be sure of exactly who will play whom, but there are sure to be some relishing contests penciled in in Doha on Friday.

(c) Sean O'Conor & Soccerphile

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