World Cup 2014 Draw – 30th July
This Saturday will see the draw for the 2014 World Cup take place in Rio De Janiero, Brazil. Giovanni Trapattoni has stated this week that he will not be attending. Despite a late drive from Ireland, we can be found in pot three. The advantages of this being that we avoid what is looking like a strong Belgium squad and the always difficult Switzerland and Czech Republic. FIFA will ensure that politics does not intrude onto the qualifying scene by keeping apart squabbling neighbours Armenia and Azerbaijan as well as Russia and Georgia. UEFA policy is to ensure that those teams are not placed in the same group. Also in good news for former Irish manager Brian Kerr, the Faroe Islands have slipped into pot 5, nipping in ahead of Wales. The pots are separated as follows
Pot one: Spain, Netherlands, Germany, England, Portugal, Italy, Croatia, Norway, Greece
Pot two: France, Montenegro, Russia, Sweden, Denmark, Slovenia, Turkey, Serbia, Slovakia
Pot three: Switzerland, Israel, Republic of Ireland, Belgium, Czech Republic, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Belarus, Ukraine, Hungary
Pot four: Bulgaria, Romania, Georgia, Lithuania, Albania, Scotland, Northern Ireland, Austria, Poland
Pot five: Armenia, Finland, Estonia, Cyprus, Latvia, Moldova, FYR Macedonia, Azerbaijan, Faroe Islands
Pot six: Wales, Liechtenstein, Iceland, Kazakhstan, Luxembourg, Malta, Andorra, San Marino
Trapattoni would be licking his lips with delight if this draw were to come to fruition. Norway are undoubtedly the weakest top seed, having not qualified for a major tournament in 11 years. Norway and Greece will also be a good draw while Portugal would be far from a disaster. While Slovenia are capable of raising their game they represent a poor second seed. Out of pot four, Georgia looks like the opponent where 6 points are most likely. Regarding pot 5, Irish fans would have to feel very confident against the Faroes. Pot 6 is all about avoiding the horrible trip to middle of Asia to play Kazakhstan.
Group of Death
Spain is obvious. It is hard to class France as the toughest draw from pot 2 as that is undoubtedly a draw that most Irish fans are longing for. Many may not agree with Poland but after a number of difficult years one could expect them to reach the higher level their talent deserves. Armenia, as proven in Irelands group for Euro 2012, are an ever improving nation. Kazakhstan is a trip no European team wants to make.
Dream draw for Away Trips
Always nice to reignite out friendly Italian relationship. Stunning scenery and cheap alcohol makes Slovenia a perfect fans destination. Slim pickings in pot 4, though a visit to Austria after our dismal showings against them in the mid 90s would be nice. Trips to Mediterranean Islands are always nice, though Irish fans have every right to be sceptical about going anywhere near Cyprus.