The groups for the qualifying stages for the 2022 FIFA World Cup were announced on Monday.© AFP
Holders France were handed an awkward draw in qualifying for the 2022 World Cup on Monday, with Ukraine and Bosnia and Herzegovina standing in their way on the road to the finals in Qatar, while England will face Poland in their group. Gareth Southgate’s England, semi-finalists at the 2018 tournament in Russia, will also take on Hungary and Albania as well as two of the minnows of international football, Andorra and San Marino, in Group I. France will also face Finland — who recently beat Les Bleus in a friendly in Paris — in Group D, with Kazakhstan completing the group that was drawn in a virtual ceremony at FIFA’s headquarters in Zurich due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Didier Deschamps They are in a group of just five teams because they will be involved in the finals of the UEFA Nations League in Italy in October next year.
The European qualifying competition to reach the finals begins next March, with a total of 13 countries from the continent going through.
Only the winners of each of the 10 groups will qualify automatically for the finals, which are to take place in November and December of 2022.
The 10 runners-up will go into play-offs alongside the two best Nations League group winners who miss out on qualifying via the traditional path.
Those play-offs will produce three more qualifiers in total, with Europe having 13 spots out of the 32 at the finals.
Germany, whose coach Joachim Loew has been under severe pressure after a run of poor recent results for the 2014 World Cup winners, will be expected to come through a group in which Romania and Iceland appear their main threats.
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