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What time is the World Cup qualifying draw and who can Northern Ireland face? All you need to know as Ian Baraclough's men enter in pot three


Today is the day Northern Ireland will discover who stands in their way of a place at the 2022 World Cup finals.

Here's everything you need to know:

What time is the World Cup draw?

The draw kicks off today at 5pm.

Who can Northern Ireland face?

They enter the draw in pot 3 and will play one team from each of the other pots 1-5 and potentially a team from pot 6, depending which group they are drawn into.

Here are the options:

Pot 1: Belgium, France, England, Portugal, Spain, Italy, Croatia, Denmark, Germany, Netherlands

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Pot 2: Switzerland, Wales, Poland, Sweden, Austria, Ukraine, Serbia, Turkey, Slovakia, Romania

Pot 3: Russia, Hungary, Republic of Ireland, Czech Republic, Norway, Northern Ireland, Iceland, Scotland, Greece, Finland

Pot 4: Bosnia and Herzegovina, Slovenia, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Albania, Bulgaria, Israel, Belarus, Georgia, Luxembourg

Pot 5: Armenia, Cyprus, Faroe Islands, Azerbaijan, Estonia, Kazakhstan, Kosovo, Lithuania, Latvia, Andorra

Pot 6: Malta, Moldova, Liechtenstein, Gibraltar, San Marino

What would be the dream group?

Based on the world ranking projections for the next update, set to be released on November 26, here's the best group Northern Ireland can face:

Dream Group: Netherlands, Romania, Northern Ireland, Luxembourg, Andorra, San Marino

While the Netherlands would be no easy tie, no team in Pot 1 provides favourable opposition. Drawing Romania from group two would give Northern Ireland a sizeable chance of securing a runners-up spot, as shown in their two draws during the Nations League campaign

What would be the nightmare scenario?

Again based on the rather dubious world rankings, here's the worst possible outcome:

Nightmare Group: Belgium, Switzerland, Northern Ireland, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Armenia, Malta

Drawing the world number ones, currently Belgium, is never that much of a winnable tie while Switzerland are the highest ranked side in Pot 1. At least that may whet the appetite for revenge following the contentious play-off defeat to the Swiss in the 2018 World Cup play-offs. Bosnia & Herzegovina would provide stiff contest from Pot 4 and would also be out to write historic wrongs after last month's Euro 2020 play-off semi-final.

Where can I watch the draw?

It will be streamed live on the UEFA website or, alternatively, you can follow it on our live blog.

What do Northern Ireland need to qualify?

Entering the draw in Pot 3, NI need to upset the odds to finish either first for automatic qualification or second to secure a play-off for a place in Qatar's winter finals during November and December 2022.

When does the qualifying campaign take place?

Matchday 1: 24–25 March 2021

Matchday 2: 27–28 March 2021

Matchday 3: 30–31 March 2021

Matchday 4: 1–2 September 2021

Matchday 5: 4–5 September 2021

Matchday 6: 7–8 September 2021

Matchday 7: 8–9 October 2021

Matchday 8: 11–12 October 2021

Matchday 9: 11–13 November 2021

Matchday 10: 14–16 November 2021

Play-off Semi-finals: 24–25 March 2022

Play-off Finals: 28–29 March 2022

What has been said about the draw?

Ian Baraclough: "I'm getting excited already. I know there is still disappointment having gone out of the Euros but we have to look forward. We can't turn the clock back so we're looking forward to our World Cup campaign. We will be ready. The draw is close and it will get the juices flowing."

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