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- Road to Qatar 2022 confirmed in Europe
- High-profile coaches react to draw
- Ten groups drawn two years ahead of tournament
In two years’ time, the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ will be in full swing. The Round of 16 will just have been played, with everyone looking forward to the quarter-finals. Before we get down to those last eight teams however, we need to establish which 32 will make it through to Qatar in the first place. In Europe, 13 spots are up for grabs via the qualifiers, which will be held between March 2021 and March 2022.
The draw for the UEFA preliminary competition took place in Zurich on Monday, with Daniele De Rossi and Rafael van der Vaart on hand to oversee proceedings.
👀 Which is the most exciting group? pic.twitter.com/xfdRm2cGwD
— FIFA World Cup (@FIFAWorldCup) December 7, 2020
The draw took place behind closed doors due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but a number of coaches and players took to social media, national association websites and virtual press conferences to share their thoughts. FIFA.com highlights some of the key reactions.
“France are the favourites but we’ll need to do the business out on the pitch. We’re the top seeds so obviously we’re supposed to be the best team. Time will tell whether that is a help or a hindrance. The risk is thinking that you’re better than the rest of the group. We’ll be seen as the favourites, but even if we’re the strongest on paper, we’re going to have to go out and get the results. We’re going to need to be determined and focused if we’re going to get through.”
Didier Deschamps, France coach (Group D)
— Equipe de France ⭐⭐ (@equipedefrance) December 7, 2020
“Here’s the proof once again that I tend to be unlucky when it comes to draws, although it’s true that we could have ended up in an even tougher group. England made the semi-finals of the last World Cup and are currently fourth in the FIFA Ranking, while Poland are 19th and have got Lewandowski, who has been the top scorer in most of the World Cup qualifying rounds that I’ve been a part of. And I think that Albania are one of the strongest teams from Pot 4.”
Marco Rossi, Hungary coach (Group I)
“I think that it’ll be between us and Switzerland, who could easily have been one of the teams in the first pot and are one of the best teams in Pot 2. The advantage is that they’re a nearby country so it’ll be a short trip. On paper, Northern Ireland would appear to be an easier opponent than Switzerland but every match is a tough one. Even Bulgaria have never given us an easy ride. You can’t afford to underestimate anyone because all it takes is a draw to make life complicated for us.”
Roberto Mancini, Italy coach (Group C)
— HNS (@HNS_CFF) December 7, 2020
“We’ve got a five-team group, which is a positive. There are some really tough eastern European places to go and who are strong physically, like Bulgaria. We obviously know the qualities of Italy and Switzerland, who we played three years ago in the play-offs. We know that on our night we can beat the so-called bigger teams, and we have to be right for each and every one of those fixtures. It’s a tough group and one that we will be very much looking forward to come March.”
Ian Baraclough, Northern Ireland coach (Group C)
“It’s a good draw for Denmark for a number of reasons. The other teams have quality and talent, and Austria and Scotland in particular are really on the up and have a lot of potential. But we’ve got a solid team and we want to go out and beat them. It was also a favourable draw geographically because we won’t have to travel too far or have to deal with totally different time zones. I hope that we will be able to have fans at our home matches – it would be great for the supporters and for the players.”
Kasper Hjulmand, Denmark coach (Group F)
“It’s the kind of draw you always get when there are lots of teams involved. You always get some teams that you know better than others in your group. In any case, we’re excited about the idea of kicking off a new World Cup qualifying campaign.”
Luis Enrique, Spain coach (Group B)