How can Scotland qualify for the World Cup? The play-off route for Qatar 2022 explained

Scotland hold a four-point lead in second place in Group F going into tonight’s meeting with the Faroe Islands.

John McGinn celebrates after scoring to make it 1-1 during Scotland's win over Israel on Saturday. Picture: SNS

There are only three games left to play and the runners-up spot could be wrapped up if both Austria, who face group leaders Denmark, and Israel both lose. However, Israel entertain bottom-place Moldova, so it’s likely Scotland will have to wait another day to seal their spot in the play-offs. Denmark will clinch first place with a victory.

The play-off format is exactly the same as the Euro 2020 play-offs which saw Scotland come out on top in a foursome which also featured Norway, Israel and Serbia – the latter two being the sides Steve Clarke’s men defeated in the one-legged semi-finals and final, respectively, to achieve their goal.

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The only difference this time will be the quality of opposition. The ten European qualification group winners gain direct entry to Qatar. The ten runners-up will then go into a pot with two of the best group winners from the Nations League to make up the 12 play-off sides. These will then be grouped off into three separate play-off paths featuring four countries.

Portugal and Switzerland are two fellow sides currently in the runners-up spot, along with Scotland’s Euro 2020 foes Croatia and the Czech Republic. Though there are some more preferable opponents out there, such as Albania and Romania. Seeding will be decided upon the conclusion of the groups.

The semi-finals and finals will take place between March 24 and March 29, 2022.

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