England have been placed in a tough Group H in the 2014 World Cup qualifying draw held in Rio de Janeiro. Fabio Capello’s wards will compete with Montenegro, Ukraine, Poland, Moldova and San Marino, to qualify for a place, in the World Cup in Brazil. Capello is due to retire after Euro 2012, and there will be a new manager leading England’s qualification campaign for the 2014 world cup. Who that manager will be is not known.
Interestingly, England are currently pitted against Montenegro as their biggest competitors for a place in the European Championship finals, in 2012.
Despite their tough draw, England have been fortunate to be able to avoid the likes of France and the Czech Republic; both teams are likely to have been even tougher contenders. Germany have been placed in Group C, along with Austria, Ireland, Sweden, the Faroe Islands and Kazakhstan, while Group A will feature Scotland, Wales, Croatia, Serbia, Belgium and Macedonia.
Defending champions Spain will also have to battle it out in the qualifiers if they want to feature in the 2014 FIFA World Cup. The reigning champions are drawn in the same group with former champions France alongside Belarus, Georgia and Finland. The Netherlands are grouped with Turkey, Hungary, Romania, Estonia and Andorra. Group F has Portugal, Northern Ireland, Russia, Israel, Azerbaijan and Luxembourg.
The draw on Saturday, for five of six FIFA confederations, had 166 teams in the fray. There was no draw for the South American zone; their nine teams are to feature in a single league with hosts Brazil having qualified automatically. South Africa, hosts of the last World Cup, are grouped with Botswana.
Asian champions Japan will have Uzbekistan, Syria and North Korea for company, in their group, and African champions Egypt have an easy qualification prospect with relatively weak rivals in Guinea, ZImbabwe and either Comoros or Mozambique.
In all 175 teams will compete in 824 qualification games for 31 remaining qualification places. There were 207 teams originally in the fray, of which 32 have since been eliminated.
Brazil are the only team to have been awarded automatic qualification by virtue of being hosts to the event that they earlier hosted in 1950.
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Jinxatious is the Chief Editor of SportingAttitude.com
An avid writer, on an eclectic range of subjects, he brings to bear editorial experience garnered with a national newspaper in South-East Asia. He also has sportscasting experience, as a cricket commentator, and his passion for sport extends beyond Cricket, to Football, Tennis, and Olympic Sports.