Holder Germany gets favourable 2018 World Cup draw


World champion Germany will begin the road to its title defence in a favourable qualifying group for the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia which features the likes of Czech Republic and Norway.

Joachim Low's side lifted the famous trophy in Brazil last year and will be expected to be among the 32 nations to feature in Russia after a kind draw.

Former Germany striker Olivier Bierhoff conducted the UEFA draw alongside Aleksandr Kerzhakov, with Low's world champion also lining up against Northern Ireland, Azerbaijan and San Marino in Group C.

Old foes England and Scotland will compete to progress from Group F, with Slovakia also likely to be firmly in the reckoning - Slovenia, Lithuania and Malta their other opponents.

European heavyweights Spain and Italy will meet in Group G, while Republic of Ireland and Wales will not have far to travel when they lock horns in Group D.

Spain - seeking to make amends for a group-stage exit in Brazil - has met Italy regularly in recent years, the former winning the EURO 2012 final between the two nations.

Group A will see Paris Saint-Germain striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic and his Sweden side take on France, with Netherlands also in the mix.

Sweden's 2014 FIFA World Cup play-off conqueror Portugal should have an easier time of it in Group B - Cristiano Ronaldo and co taking on the likes of Switzerland, Hungary and Latvia.

In African qualifying, 2010 host South Africa will seek to re-establish itself after missing out on the 2014 FIFA World Cup and the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations.

Shakes Mashaba's side faces Angola first up, while Morocco and Tunisia face Equatorial Guinea and the winner of South Sudan and Mauritania respectively.

After its run to the last 16 in Brazil, Algeria begins against Tanzania or Malawi, while another surprise package from 2014, Costa Rica, will feature in CONCACAF Group B alongside Panama.

USA will face Trinidad and Tobago in Group C, while Patrick Kluivert's maiden qualification draw with Curacao could see it take on Honduras and Mexico if it gets past El Salvador.

Oceania favourite New Zealand will feature in Group B alongside Solomon Islands, Fiji and Vanuatu.

The continent's representatives in the intercontinental play-offs will play South American opposition, while CONCACAF will take on the Asian Football Confederation in the other fixture.

2018 FIFA World Cup qualifying draw in full:

UEFA (Final group stage)

Group A: Netherlands, France, Sweden, Bulgaria, Belarus, Luxembourg
Group B: Portugal, Switzerland, Hungary, Faroe Islands, Latvia, Andorra
Group C: Germany, Czech Republic, Northern Ireland, Norway, Azerbaijan, San Marino
Group D: Wales, Austria, Serbia, Republic of Ireland, Moldova, Georgia
Group E: Romania, Denmark, Poland, Montenegro, Armenia, Kazakhstan
Group F: England, Slovakia, Scotland, Slovenia, Lithuania, Malta
Group G: Spain, Italy, Albania, Israel, FYR Macedonia, Liechtenstein
Group H: Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Greece, Estonia, Cyprus
Group I: Croatia, Iceland, Ukraine, Turkey, Finland

CONMEBOL (Final group stage)

Colombia, Chile, Paraguay, Argentina, Brazil, Ecuador, Venezuela, Bolivia, Peru, Uruguay.

The 10 CONMEBOL nations were drawn to determine the order of fixtures in South America's qualifying section. All sides face each other in a round-robin format

CONCACAF (Fourth of five stages)

A: Honduras, Mexico, Curacao/El Salvador, Canada/Belize
B: Panama, Costa Rica, Granada/Haiti, Jamaica/Nicaragua
C: Trinidad and Tobago, USA, St Vincent and the Grenadines/Aruba, Antigua and Barbuda/Guatemala

OFC (Second of four stages)

Group A: Tahiti, New Caledonia, [Winner of round one from American Samoa, Cook Islands, Samoa, Tonga], Papua New Guinea
Group B: New Zealand, Solomon Islands, Fiji, Vanuatu

CAF (Second of three stages)

Somalia or Niger vs Cameroon, South Sudan or Mauritania vs Tunisia, Gambia or Namibia vs Guinea, Sao Tome e Principe or Ethiopia vs Congo, Chad or Sierra Leone vs Egypt, Comoros or Lesotho vs Ghana, Djibouti or Swaziland vs Nigeria, Eritrea or Botswana vs Mali, Seychelles or Burundi vs Congo DR, Liberia or Guinea-Bissau vs Ivory Coast, Central African Republic or Madagascar vs Senegal, Mauritius or Kenya vs Cape Verde Islands, Tanzania or Malawi vs Algeria, Sudan vs Zambia, Libya vs Rwanda, Morocco vs Equatorial Guinea, Mozambique vs Gabon, Benin vs Burkina Faso, Togo vs Uganda, Angola vs South Africa

Intercontinental play-offs


Source Omnisport