Live Coverage: World Cup 2022 group stage draw


Argentina are the next out of the pot, taking position C1.

GROUP C: Argentina

Gareth Southgate’s side will be in Group B at the 2022 World Cup, which means their first game will be on the opening day of the tournament.

GROUP B: England

England are the next out!

As we knew beforehand, Qatar are drawn out first and allocated to Group A, position one.

GROUP A: Qatar

After two more reminders of which teams are in which pot, we’re off!

Slightly later than billed – 45 minutes later to be exact – we are finally about to have some balls drawn from some pots.

It’s been a long-winded process to get here, but teams are now just minutes away from learning their opponents for the the 2022 World Cup group stage.

Let’s hope this draw goes a bit more smoothly than the recent Champions League one, which had to be redrawn after a mistake in the original one when a team was accidentally excluded from one round of selection.

Iran’s Ali Daei, whose international goalscoring record has now been broken by Cristiano Ronaldo, Qatar’s Adel Ahmed Malalla, Australia’s Tim Cahill, Serbian Bora Milutinovic and Algerian Rabah Madjer complete the lineup, which went a bit downhill after Cafu and Matthaus.

This is a bit more like it – those who are doing the draw are now being introduced to the stage.

First up are Brazilian legend Cafu, Nigerian (and Bolton) legend Jay-Jay Okocha and 1990 World Cup-winning captain Lothar Matthaus.

The balls are now out on stage as we edge towards the draw itself, with Jermaine Jenas of all people hosting the gig.

Having won 21 caps for England and never appeared at a World Cup – making it to 2006 but not playing in a game – I am baffled as to how he has got this gig.

At least that gives us a bit of time to look at Pot 4 in a bit more depth, and while that contains the lowest-ranked qualified teams, there are still a few teams who could pose problems.

Ecuador are perhaps top of that list of teams to avoid, having impressed in South American qualifying.

…although, having said that there is a suspicious lack of balls and people to draw them on the stage right now.

Hosts Idris Elba and Reshmin Chowdhury will first kill a bit more time with a video selling the Qatari World Cup dream.

Right, the lights are dimmed, Didier Deschamps brings the World Cup trophy onto the stage and we should be good to go for the 2022 World Cup draw momentarily!

Let’s have a look at Pot 3 before we finally get to the draw itself, and in addition to African champions Senegal, there are tricky ties against the likes of Poland and Serbia potentially in store for some teams.

Iran and Japan also impressed during qualifying, so may be ones to avoid as well.

One of the pre-draw speakers has just recognised what every football fans already knows: “Nobody wants to listen to our speeches before the draw”.

…swiftly followed by a speech of his own.

Continuing with our look at Pot 2, the CONCACAF teams Mexico and USA are both included but may be among the preferred draws for many in Pot 1.

The duo are traditionally heavyweights of that section, but they were bettered by Canada during the qualifying campaign and their relatively high FIFA ranking may be a little on the generous side right now.

We are closing in on the draw itself now, with the pre-show coming to an end and FIFA president Gianni Infantino now out on stage.

Let the waffling begin – even later than first feared.

Croatia will also pose a difficult test as they always seem to do at major tournaments, with the likes of Luka Modric still going strong both for club and country.

It has felt for some time as though Croatia’s golden period might be coming to an end, and this World Cup may indeed be the final hurrah for some of their greatest ever players, so they will be desperate to go out with a bang.

Real Madrid midfielder Luka Modric on March 9, 2022© Reuters

Netherlands themselves would provide stern opposition as they return to the World Cup after missing the 2018 edition, and they are the highest-ranked team in Pot 2.

They are closely followed by Denmark, who many may feel would be a kinder draw than Germany or Netherlands, but of course who also made it to the semi-finals of Euro 2020 last summer.

Let’s have a look at how Pot 2 shapes up, with some big names which those in Pot 1 will be keen to avoid.

We have already touched on Germany, who are four-time winners of the World Cup but are only in Pot 2 by virtue of being 12th in the world rankings – behind the likes of Netherlands and Denmark.

While the off-pitch matters are undoubtedly the most serious accusations against Qatar, there were also plenty of questions surrounding their merit as World Cup hosts on the pitch.

Qatar, after all, have never appeared at the World Cup before, and are only ranked 51st in the world – which itself may even be generous given that they have not played a competitive fixture for so long.

Every World Cup is memorable for its own reasons, but this one promises to be like no other before it – for better or worse.

Needless to say, there have been huge controversies around Qatar being hosts given their human rights record and the issue of migrant workers dying during the building of the stadiums and infrastructure, and that is an issue which was publicly raised by a member of the Norwegian FA at the FIFA Congress yesterday.

As expected, it looks like it will be a bit of time before the actual business of the draw begins in Doha – right now there is inexplicably an opening ceremony of sorts taking place on the stage.

Fingers crossed for Rod Stewart to make an appearance when the draw eventually begins.

It would be remiss of us to mention Pot 1 without also touching on the presence of both Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, who will be appearing at their fifth World Cups.

Neither of the great men have got their hands on the trophy so far in their careers, and you’d have to think that this edition would be the last chance to do so.

Lionel Messi in action for Argentina on September 10, 2021© Reuters

It is also impossible to ignore reigning champions France, who were brilliant in Russia four years ago and still boast a squad packed full of talent – most notably Kylian Mbappe, who may well be a Real Madrid player by that stage.

There are quite a few teams who will fancy their chances, though, including England themselves, whose wait for a first international trophy since 1966 was agonisingly extended last summer.

There is the feeling that Gareth Southgate’s side are getting closer, though, having reached the semi-finals of the 2018 World Cup and then the final of Euro 2020.

There are still more than seven-and-a-half months to go until this tournament kicks off, of course, but prior to the draw the favourites look like being Brazil, who are never far away from that status anyway.

Aside from being five-time winners of the World Cup, they have also now moved above Belgium at the top of the FIFA World Rankings and recently broke the record for the highest points haul in South America qualifying history – with a game to spare too.

Senegal are perhaps the team most would want to avoid in Pot 3, having been crowned African Cup of Nations champions earlier this year and then seen off Egypt again in their playoff.

They contain the likes of Sadio Mane, Edouard Mendy and Kalidou Koulibaly, while Robert Lewandowski’s Poland also lurk as a dangerous Pot 3 option.

In terms of the teams that have made it, just one – host nation Qatar – will be appearing at the World Cup for the first ever time.

Canada, meanwhile, have qualified for only the second time in their history and the first since 1986, and they may be a team to avoid after finishing above both Mexico and USA in the CONCACAF section.

Most of the big names have made it to Qatar as expected, although there will be some notable absentees – and none more so than Italy, who incredibly failed to qualify for a second successive World Cup, just months after being crowned Euro 2020 champions.

In terms of notable big individual names who will miss out, they include the likes of Mohamed Salah, Erling Braut Haaland, David Alaba and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

WHO HAS QUALIFIED?

As already mentioned, 29 teams are already guaranteed a place in Qatar – but who are they and which pots will they be in?

Pot 1: Qatar, Belgium, Brazil, France, Argentina, England, Spain, Portugal

Pot 2: Denmark, Netherlands, Germany, Mexico, USA, Switzerland, Croatia, Uruguay

Pot 3: Senegal, Iran, Japan, Morocco, Serbia, Poland, South Korea, Tunisia

Pot 4: Saudi Arabia, Ecuador, Ghana, Cameroon, Canada, Peru or Australia/UAE, New Zealand/Costa Rica, Wales or Scotland/Ukraine

Teams from the same qualification zone other than UEFA cannot be drawn together if it is possible to avoid it, meaning that the likes of Brazil and Argentina cannot be drawn against each other or against another South American nation.

As UEFA have 13 places at the World Cup they must live by slightly different rules, with at least one but no more than two European countries being included in every group.

As a result, five out of the eight groups will have two European nations in, although teams from the same pot still cannot be drawn against each other.

So, how will the draw work?

Well, the seedings have been decided using the FIFA rankings released yesterday, which separated the top 29 ranked teams into four points of eight teams, plus those three as-yet unclaimed places.

Pot 1 – containing the top seeds and hosts Qatar – will be completed first, before Pot 2, Pot 3 and Pot 4 follow in that order.

Teams will first be drawn from their pot, and then allocated to a group, although as hosts Qatar are already guaranteed to be the first team in Group A.

They are by no means alone in that regard, though, with some particularly big names in Pots 1 and 2 which promise at least one Group of Death.

There is the prospect of England being drawn against bitter rivals Germany, although even if they avoid them then there are difficult games against Euro 2020 semi-final opponents Denmark and World Cup 2018 conquerors Croatia among others.

Here, Sports Mole has looked at the best and worst-case scenarios for England ahead of the draw.

So, what can we expect from today’s draw? Well, 29 teams will be learning their fates this afternoon, with the three remaining spots being placed in Pot 4 – the lowest-ranked seeds – regardless of their FIFA World Ranking.

The likes of Wales, Scotland, Ukraine, Peru and Australia are among the teams still uncertain of their places, meaning they could face very difficult groups should they get through.

Good afternoon! Thank you very much for joining Sports Mole for our live coverage of the 2022 World Cup draw in Doha, Qatar.

It is a day all of the 29 qualified teams will have been waiting for ever since securing their spots at the first ever winter edition of the tournament, be that Qatar all the way back when they were confirmed as hosts, or USA and Mexico, who only booked their tickets a couple of days ago.

The draw itself is scheduled to get underway at 5pm BST, although anyone who has watched these draws before knows that we can expect some waffling from those on stage before the real business gets underway!



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