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Ireland set for first steps towards World Cup

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'Qualifying for the World Cup starts in 2021.' Photo: Owen Humphreys/PA

'Qualifying for the World Cup starts in 2021.' Photo: Owen Humphreys/PA

'Qualifying for the World Cup starts in 2021.' Photo: Owen Humphreys/PA

The long road to Qatar and the 2022 World Cup finals begins for the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland in Amsterdam on Tuesday, with the draw for the 2020 Nations League groups.

Why is it linked to the World Cup? The two teams who do best in the 2020 Nations League, and do not qualify directly for the World Cup or for the play-offs, will get a ticket into those play-offs. And both the Republic and Northern Ireland are ranked right on the cusp of where those two tickets will fall.

UEFA have divided the Nations League draw into three tiers. The top one contains the best 16 teams on the continent, the bottom one has the Andorras and San Marinos of this world. The Republic and Northern Ireland are in the 16-team middle tier.


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