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Saturday 16 December 2017

Trap's men may face Spain and France

Daniel McDonnell

Daniel McDonnell

A money-spinning group with England and France is one of the possibilities for Ireland after FIFA yesterday confirmed the seedings for Saturday's 2014 World Cup qualifying draw in Rio.

The 53 European nations have been divided according to the latest set of world rankings. Ireland have dropped two places in the world list to 33rd because of Peru and Paraguay's exploits in Copa America.

Eight groups of six and one group of five will be drawn, with Ireland, as expected, in Pot 3.

France are the stand-out side in Pot 2. Despite a promising start to life under Laurent Blanc, they are still suffering from a dismal 2010. Ireland's Euro 2012 opponents Russia and Slovakia are also in the second pot, along with Sweden, Denmark, Montenegro, Slovenia, Serbia and Turkey.

Opportunity could knock from Pot 1, though, with Croatia, Norway and Greece sticking out as three opponents that Ireland would fancy their chances against, even if the FAI wouldn't be too enamoured by the financial rewards.

England, Spain, Holland, Germany, Portugal and Italy are the other top guns. A combination of England or Germany with France would be the most lucrative eventuality to help the FAI with servicing their substantial debt.

Meanwhile, there was good news for Brian Kerr's Faroe Islands when it was confirmed they have jumped above Wales and into Pot 5 after improved performances under his stewardship.

Gary Speed's side join the dregs of European football in Pot 6. Scotland and Northern Ireland are in Pot 4, where Bulgaria, Romania and Poland look to be the most difficult opponents.

The other teams in Pot 3 -- who Ireland will definitely not encounter -- are Switzerland, Israel, Belgium, Czech Republic, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Belarus, Ukraine and Hungary.

Best case scenario: Norway, Slovenia, Lithuania, Faroe Islands, San Marino

Worst case scenario: Spain, France, Poland, Armenia, Wales

Irish Independent

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