AfricanFootball’s guide to the 2018 World Cup draw

AfricanFootball’s guide to the 2018 World Cup draw
Sadio Mane of Senegal celebrates a goal with teammates during the 2018 World Cup Qualifiers football match between South Africa and Senegal at Peter Mokaba Stadium, Polokwane on 10 November 2017 ©Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix

by Graeme Jackson

Friday Dec 01, 2017. 17:00

AfricanFootball presents a guide to the upcoming draw for the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

When and where will the draw be held?

The draw will be conducted at the State Kremlin Palace in Moscow on Friday, December 1, beginning at 17h00 CAT. However, there are likely to be multiple ceremonies and speeches before any balls are drawn out of pots.

Can I follow the draw live?

Yes, we’ll have live updates right here on, starting at 17h00 CAT.

How does it work?

The 32 teams which will play in the tournament next year have been separated into four pots of eight each, based on FIFA’s world rankings in October.

Pot 1 features the seven highest-ranked teams as well as hosts Russia, who have automatically been assigned to the first position in Group A.

Pot 2 is comprised of the next eight best-ranked teams, and so on through Pots 3 and 4.

When the draw is conducted, one team from each pot will be assigned to a group, A through H.

However, the one complication is that teams from the same confederation cannot be drawn together in the same group.

For example, Senegal and Nigeria are both CAF (African) teams and therefore cannot be grouped together.

This rule does not apply to UEFA (European) teams, who can have up to two teams in the same group.

What is the line-up for each pot?

Pot 1 is made up of Russia (hosts, world ranking 65), Germany (1), Brazil (2), Portugal (3), Argentina (4), Belgium (5), Poland (6) and France (7).

Pot 2 is made up of Spain (8), Peru (10), Switzerland (11), England (12), Colombia (13), Mexico (16), Uruguay (17) and Croatia (18).

Pot 3 is made up of Denmark (19), Iceland (21), Costa Rica (22), Sweden (25), Tunisia (28), Egypt (30), Senegal (32) and Iran (34).

Pot 4 is made up of Serbia (38), Nigeria (41), Australia (43), Japan (44), Morocco (48), Panama (49), South Korea (62) and Saudi Arabia (63).

What’s the best/worst-case scenario for the African teams?

Let’s use Nigeria as an example, and their best-case scenario is to be pooled in Group A with Russia (easily the weakest team in Pot 1) and get Peru or Mexico from Pot 2 and Iceland or Iran from Pot 3.

Their worst-case scenario is to get reigning champions Germany from Pot 1, Spain from Pot 2 and Costa Rica (since there can be only two European teams per group) from Pot 3.

Obviously there are numerous permutations that could play out for each of the five African teams, but the bottom line is that at least four of them will have two teams in their group ranked inside the world’s top 20.

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