Scotland's potential Qatar 2022 World Cup qualifying opponents; Steve Clarke's side seeded third
The Nations League defeat to Israel on Wednesday, and Czech Republic’s win over Slovakia, ended Scotland’s hopes of a guaranteed second-chance play-off for qualification – much like they were given, and exploited in such exhilirating fashion, a week ago in Serbia for the Euros.
So all eyes are now on the draw in Zurich on December 7 where Scotland are in the third pot of seeds.
Winners from each of the groups drawn will progress to the World Cup Finals in Qatar, leaving runners-up to contest the play-offs with the two highest ranked Nations League group winners who don’t win their qualifying groups. That’s why Scotland were striving for the top spot in last night’s game – not just promotion to some glamour ties in the top Nations League tier.
Wednesday night’s results also confirmed the seeding pots, and Steve Clarke’s side are in the third grouping – an improvement on recent ranking – meaning they cannot face Russia, Northern Ireland, Republic of Ireland or Czech Republic in their qualifying section.
The pots are listed below, but due to the uneven number of teams, five groups will consist of five teams and the remainder six – with Italy, France, Spain and Belgium guaranteed to be in the smaller sections, due to their Nations League Finals participation.
Of course there are hundreds of thousands of permutations in how each group will shape up – but we have drawn up what we perceive as a best-case scenario for Steve Clarke – and a nightmare from the pots below.
Pot 1: Belgium, Croatia, Denmark, England, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain.
Pot 2: Austria, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine, Wales.
Pot 3: Czech Republic, Finland, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Northern Ireland, Norway, Republic of Ireland, Russia, Scotland,
Pot 4: Albania, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Georgia, Israel, Luxembourg, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Slovenia.
Pot 5: Andorra, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Cyprus, Estonia, Faroe Islands, Kazakhstan, Kosovo, Latvia, Lithuania.
Pot 6: Gibraltar, Liechtenstein, Malta, Moldova, San Marino.
Matches are scheduled to begin in March next year.