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World Cup draw: Scotland’s potential group rivals for Qatar confirmed – and they include England

The World Cup 2022 group stage draw took place in Doha.
The World Cup 2022 group stage draw took place in Doha.

Scotland have discovered their World Cup group should they qualify for November’s tournament in Qatar – and it includes eternal rivals England.

The Scots would be in Group B with the Auld Enemy, Iran and the United States.

Steve Clarke’s side had been due to contest a play-off semi-final at Hampden during the recent international break – however, the game has been postponed indefinitely due to Russia’s invasion of the Dark Blues’ opponents, Ukraine.

After the semi-final tie is eventually played – with an unlikely date in early June currently pencilled in – the winner will travel to Cardiff to square off against Wales, who beat Austria in their semi, for a place at this winter’s finals.

Scotland manager Steve Clarke
Scotland manager Steve Clarke during the 1-1 draw with Poland a few days ago.

The prospect of reaching Qatar – which would be Scotland’s first World Cup appearance since France ’98 – has been made all the more mouthwatering by the news, following today’s group stage draw in Doha, that Scotland, Wales or Ukraine have been paired with England, Iran and the US.

Clarke’s side would play the US first at the tournament – a team Scotland have never played at the World Cup – but the clash with England will naturally excite fans of both Wales and those in the Tartan Army.

The Scots and England met recently, during the group stage of last year’s European Championship – playing out a tight 0-0 draw at Wembley.

Clarke and his side will be desperate for another crack at Gareth Southgate’s men, having come close to a famous victory that night.

Iran are an opponent who will strike fear into Scotland fans of a certain vintage, with Ally Macleod’s vaunted side of superstars playing out a 1-1 draw with the Iranians at the 1978 World Cup in Argentina to cap a disastrous campaign – a tournament the national team were tipped to win.

That clash was the only time the two sides have faced one another.

Scotland played Iran at the 1978 tournament.

How was the draw carried out, and when is the first group game?

Today’s draw – carried out by greats of the game like Cafu, Jay-Jay Okocha, Tim Cahill and Lothar Matthaus – saw 32 teams placed into eight groups of four for the first section of the Qatar finals.

The placeholder ball representing Scotland, Wales or Ukraine was in pot four for the draw.

Pot one contained hosts Qatar plus the seven highest-ranked teams in the current FIFA rankings, pot two contained the next eight highest-ranked sides, pot three the next eight, and then pot four contained the five lowest-ranked sides, plus the three places at the finals still to be decided by play-offs.

As well as the outstanding European play-off place Scotland are in the running for, two intercontinental play-off spots – with teams like New Zealand and Peru in the running – are still to be decided by matches in Qatar on June 13-14.

No group for the finals could contain more than one team from any continent – except Europe, with a maximum of two European sides allowed per group.

The group stage curtain-raiser will feature hosts Qatar and will take place at Al Bayt Stadium in Doha on Monday, November 21, at 1pm local time. The teams will play each of their group-mates once before the group stage concludes on Friday, December 2, with the top two teams in each group progressing.

The knock-out games will get under way with the round of 16 on Saturday, December 3.

Scotland played Poland and Austria in friendlies during the international break which just finished, recording 1-1 and 2-2 draws respectively.

 

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