Nearly time for the FIFA World Cup draw

The scene is all set for all 32 participating member associations to learn their paths to possible glory with the draw for the FIFA World Cup taking place on 1 December (18:00 local time) in Moscow’s State Kremlin Palace.

The October 2017 edition of the FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking has been used to allocate all qualified teams to the four pots in descending order, with the best seven teams along with hosts Russia in pot 1.

The draw sequence will start with pot 1 and end with pot 4. Each pot will be completely emptied before moving on to the next. As per the usual standard FIFA procedure, a ball from a team pot will be drawn, followed by a ball from one of the group pots, thus determining the position in which the respective team will play.

In pot 1, Russia will be a red ball and has already been pre-assigned the position of A1 as the host country, allowing it to play in the opening game on 14 June. Ironically Russia is the lowest ranked team playing in the World Cup.

The remaining seven teams in pot 1 will automatically be drawn into position 1 of each group (B to H), whereas teams in pots 2, 3 and 4 will be drawn into positions randomly in their groups.

FIFA’s general principle is also to ensure that no group has more than one team from the same qualification zone drawn into it. This is applicable to all zones except Europe, which is represented by 14 teams. Each group must have at least one but no more than two European teams drawn into it. As such, six out of the eight groups will feature two European teams.

The distribution of the teams into the groups according to the geographic separation principle will be monitored by a system designed to take all parameters into account, which means that groups may be skipped. For example, Peru, Colombia and Uruguay, which are in pot 2, will not be drawn into the same group with Brazil or Argentina, which are in pot one. The same principle will apply to the teams from the other confederations with the exception of UEFA.

The Final 32 for Russia 2018

208 countries entered for the 2018 World Cup, but there is only space for just 32 teams in Russia. To qualify a total of 871 games were played between 12 March 2015 and 15 November 2017 with 2,469 goals being scored.

The 32 teams to qualify for the 2018 FIFA World Cup, their FIFA rankings, and how they performed in Brazil are:

  1. Argentina (4) – Finalist – Runner-up in Brazil
  2. Australia  (43) – Knocked out at the group stage in Brazil
  3. Belgium (5) – Quarter finalist in Brazil
  4. Brazil (2) – Semi finalist- 4th place in Brazil
  5. Colombia (13) – Quarter finalist in Brazil
  6. Costa Rica (22) – Quarter finalist in Brazil
  7. Croatia (18) – Knocked out at the group stage in Brazil
  8. Denmark (19) – Last played in the World Cup Finals in 2010
  9. Egypt (30) – Last played in the World Cup Finals in 1990
  10. England (12) – Knocked out at the group stage in Brazil
  11. France (7) – Quarter finalist in Brazil
  12. Germany (1) – Finalist – 2014 World Champions in Brazil
  13. Iceland (21) – First World Cup Finals appearance
  14. Iran (31) – Knocked out at the group stage in Brazil
  15. Japan (44) – Knocked out at the group stage in Brazil
  16. Mexico (16) – Knocked out in the round of 16 in Brazil
  17. Morocco (48) – Last played in the World Cup Finals in 2010
  18. Nigeria (41) – Knocked out in the round of 16 in Brazil
  19. Panama (49) – First World Cup Finals appearance
  20. Peru (10) – Last played in the World Cup Finals in 1982
  21. Poland (6) – Last played in the World Cup Finals in 2006
  22. Portugal (3) – Knocked out at the group stage in Brazil
  23. Russia (65) – Knocked out at the group stage in Brazil
  24. Saudi Arabia (63) – Last played in the World Cup Finals in 2006
  25. Senegal (32) – Last played in the World Cup Finals in 2002
  26. Serbia (38) – Last played in the World Cup Finals in 2010
  27. South Korea (62) – Knocked out at the group stage in Brazil
  28. Spain (8) – Knocked out at the group stage in Brazil
  29. Sweden (25) – Last played in the World Cup Finals in 2006
  30. Switzerland (11) – Knocked out in the round of 16 in Brazil
  31. Tunisia (28) – Last played in the World Cup Finals in 2006
  32. Uruguay (17) – Knocked out in the round of 16 in Brazil

Of the 32 teams playing in Russia, 20 of them are returning after the previous tournament in Brazil in 2014, which means 12 teams that played in Brazil won’t be in Russia, but 12 teams new teams are. New since Brazil are Denmark, Egypt, Iceland (first World Cup Finals appearance), Morocco, Panama, (first World Cup Finals appearance), Peru, Poland, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Serbia, Sweden and Tunisia. Nigeria is the only African side to return to the World Cup Finals after Brazil, while Brazil was the first team to qualify.

Confederations Cup 2017

The Confederations Cup will take place in Russia between 17 June and 2 July 2017 and will feature Russia, 2014 World Cup winners Germany and the six reigning champions of world football’s confederations: Australia, Chile, Mexico, New Zealand, Portugal and Cameroon.

The Confederations Cup acts as a mini dress-rehearsal for the World Cup. In 2013 host Brazil won the competition.

World Cup 2018: Qualifying draw


A year on from the FIFA World Cup in Brazil, the preliminary draw for the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia was made in St Petersburg on 25 July 2015. The result of that draw is:


Group A
Netherlands, France, Sweden, Bulgaria, Belarus, Luxembourg
Group B
Portugal, Switzerland, Hungary, Faroe Islands, Latvia, Andorra
Group C
Germany, Czech Republic, Northern Ireland, Norway, Azerbaijan, San Marino
Group D
Wales , Austria, Serbia, Republic of Ireland, Moldova, Georgia
Group E
Romania, Denmark, Poland, Montenegro, Armenia, Kazakhstan
Group F
England, Slovakia, Scotland, Slovenia, Lithuania, Malta
Group G
Spain, Italy, Albania, Israel, FYR Macedonia, Liechtenstein
Group H
Belgium, Bosnia-Hercegovina, Greece, Estonia, Cyprus
Group I
Croatia, Iceland, Ukraine, Turkey, Finland

Nine group winners qualify. Eight runners-up with the best record against the teams first, third, fourth and fifth in their groups proceed to play-offs. Russia automatically qualify as hosts.


Round one: Two-legged ties, played 5 October and 13 October.
Somalia v Niger, South Sudan v Mauritania, Gambia v Namibia, Sao Tome e Principe v Ethiopia, Chad v Sierra Leone, Comoros v Lesotho, Dijibouti v Swaziland, Eritrea v Botswana, Seychelles v Burundi, Liberia v Guinea-Bissau, Central African Republic v Madagascar, Mauritius v Kenya, Tanzania v Malawi

Round two: Two-legged ties, played 9 November and 17 November.
Somalia/Niger v Cameroon, South Sudan/Mauritania v Tunisia, Gambia/Namibia v Guinea, Sao Tome e Principe/Ethiopia v Congo, Chad/Sierra Leone v Egypt, Comoros/Lesotho v Ghana, Djibouti/Swaziland v Nigeria, Eritrea/Botswana v Mali, Seychelles/Burundi v Congo DR, Liberia/Guinea-Bissau v Ivory Coast, Central African Republic/Madagascar v Senegal, Mauritius/Kenya v Cape Verde, Tanzania/Malawi v Algeria, Sudan v Zambia, Libya v Rwanda, Morocco v Equatorial Guinea, Mozambique v Gabon, Benin v Burkina Faso, Togo v Uganda, Angola v South Africa

The 20 winners from the second round will go into a third round comprising five groups of four. The winners of each group qualify for the World Cup.


Third round: Two-legged ties, played from 31 August to 8 September.
Curacao v El Salvador, Canada v Belize, Grenada v Haiti, Jamaica v Nicaragua, St Vincent & Grenadines v Aruba, Antigua & Barbuda v Guatemala

Group A
Honduras, Mexico, Curacao/El Salvador, Canada/Belize
Group B
Panama, Costa Rica, Grenada/Haiti, Jamaica/Nicaragua
Group C
Trinidad & Tobago, USA, St Vincent & Grenadines/Aruba, Antigua & Barbuda/Guatemala

The top two teams from each group will play in a six-team mini-league. The top three qualify and the fourth goes into an inter-continental play-off.


Round one (group stage)
American Samoa, Cook Islands, Samoa, Tonga

Round two (group stage)
Group A
Winner of round one between American Samoa, Cook Islands, Samoa and Tonga. Plus Papua New Guinea, New Caledonia, Tahiti
Group B
New Zealand, Vanuatu, Fiji, Solomon Islands

The top three teams in Group A and Group B progress to round three. That will comprise of two groups of three, with the top team in each progressing to a two-legged play-off. The winners of that qualify for the inter-continental play-off.

South America

Group stage
Colombia, Chile, Paraguay, Argentina, Brazil, Ecuador, Venezuela, Bolivia, Peru, Uruguay

Top four automatically qualify. Fifth place goes into a play-off.