Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland gearing up for World Cup Play off draw today

The draw for the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia play-off matches will be made today at 13.00 in Zurich, Switzerland.

With the nine European group winners decided; France, Portugal, Germany, Serbia, Poland, England, Spain, Belgium and Iceland, 23 of the 32 teams set to play in the Russian World Cup this summer have been determined so far.

The next step is filling the final four European places from the eight best second-place teams. These are Croatia, Denmark, Greece, Italy, Northern Ireland, Republic of Ireland, Sweden and Switzerland. Missing out is Slovakia, as the worst ranked second-place team.

The eight teams will be divided into two pots, the first containing the four seeded teams, while the remaining teams go into the second pot. Seeded teams in Pot 1 are Croatia (18) Denmark (19), Italy (15) and Switzerland (11).

One ball from each pot will then be placed in a central pot to determine who plays the first leg of the two-legged qualifier at home

The dates for these play-offs will be between November 9th and 11th.

Whomever the Republic of Ireland draw with, pressure is on after mounting criticism grew for a less than stellar conclusion to the first round of qualifiers against Moldova and Wales.

Writing a highly critical Irish Independent opinion piece on their performance, former manager Brian Kerr said recently, "I didn't get involved in this game, and then become inspired to be a coach, to see our international side play without such little artistry or love of the ball."

"It's okay for Iceland and Northern Ireland to play to their strengths and win games in whatever way possible, considering the lack of depth in their talent pools."

"But we are, and should be, better than that."

The draw will be streamed live via the official FIFA website, Facebook and FIFA TV on YouTube at 13.00 GMT.


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