Friday, 23 November 2007

Onwards and Upwards



Rarely have Lawrie Sanchez’s words been more appropriate. After the roller-coaster of the European Championship Qualifying campaign, there is barely time for Northern Ireland’s fans and players to draw breath before the World Cup Qualifying draw is made in Durban on Sunday.

David Healy is understandably optimistic after his remarkable achievements. Already Northern Ireland’s talisman is looking forward to the next challenge.

The FIFA World Rankings were released at 10am this morning and will be used to seed the teams into 6 pots. Eight groups of 6 teams and one group of 5 will comprise the European zone, encompassing the 53 member associations of UEFA. It is my understanding that the pots will be as follows (based on the rankings released this morning):

Pot 1:

Italy
Spain
Germany
Czech Republic
France
Portugal
Holland
Croatia
Greece

Pot 2:

England
Romania
Scotland
Turkey
Bulgaria
Russia
Poland
Sweden
Israel

Pot 3:

Norway
Ukraine
Serbia
Denmark
Northern Ireland
Republic of Ireland
Finland
Switzerland
Belgium

Pot 4:

Slovakia
Bosnia-Herzegovina
Hungary
Moldova
Wales
Macedonia
Belarus
Lithuania
Cyprus

Pot 5:

Georgia
Albania
Slovenia
Latvia
Iceland
Armenia
Austria
Kazakhstan
Azerbaijan

Pot 6:

Liechtenstein
Estonia
Malta
Luxembourg
Montenegro
Andorra
Faroe Islands
San Marino

An intriguing draw lies ahead for fans who will already by working out which teams will favour Northern Ireland and which countries they may wish to visit.

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