Belfast Telegraph

When will the World Cup play-off draw take place? A date for Northern Ireland fans' diaries

Northern Ireland are close to sealing a spot in the play-offs to reach the World Cup finals. And now we know when they would learn their fate, should they make it. Here are all the details.

When and where is the draw? Can I watch it?

The play-off draw will take place on Tuesday October 17 at 2pm. The draw will be done in Zurich and will be streamed live online. Keep an eye on our website come the day and hour.

So who will qualify for the play-offs?

While all nine teams qualifying directly as European group winners will be known on 10 October, eight of the nine group runners-up enter the play-offs. The top eight will be decided by points, goal difference, goals scored, goals scored away from home and disciplinary ranking, with the results against teams ranked 6th in each group not taken into account.

As to which individual teams will make it and whether Northern Ireland will be one of them - it's all a bit complicated. Have a look at our in-depth guide:

When will the games take place?

The eight teams will be paired into four home-and-away ties, with the matches foreseen to be played in the period between 9 and 14 November.

Will away goals carry greater significance?

The play-off ties will be decided by aggregate score over two legs, though, in the event of a draw, the team that scores more away goals will qualify. If the winner is still not decided at the end of normal time in the second leg, the match will go to extra time with two periods of 15 minutes and the away goals rule still applied. If the scores are still level at the end of extra time, the tie will go to penalties.

Who will be seeded?

The eight teams will be seeded in two pots with the four highest-ranked teams placed in one pot. The ranking will be based on the FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking published on 16 October.

One team will be drawn from Pot 1 and the other will be drawn from Pot 2, with the two balls then placed into a third pot. These two balls will be stirred again and drawn one by one. The first ball drawn will be the home team for the first leg. The same process will be repeated for the remaining balls in each pot.

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