World Cup - Testing 2014 draw for England

Sat, 30 Jul 21:08:00 2011

England were handed a testing 2014 World Cup qualifying draw Group H in Rio de Janeiro but spared the prospect of facing some high-profile rivals.

World Cup - Testing draw for England

England, among the first seeds for the draw, will face Montenegro, Ukraine, Poland, Moldova and San Marino in a bid to qualify for the World Cup in Brazil.

Montenegro are currently England's biggest rivals in qualifying for next year's European Championship finals.

But despite some awkward ties, they will be relieved to avoid the likes of France and the Czech Republic who were lurking elsewhere in the draw.

With Fabio Capello set to retire after the European Championships in 2012, it is unclear who will be managing the team when England play their qualifiers.

"It is not an easy draw," said Capello. "You have to be really, really focused and play every game like a final - but that will be another manager's job.

"We know Montenegro very well and we have to play against them again. Poland are improving and will be really focused and will be tough opponents.

"With Ukraine I remember the game we lost against them in the last match during the qualification for South Africa. Moldova are not so strong, and San Marino the same."

The Republic of Ireland will also fancy their chances of a top-two finish in Group C, though they will have to take on Germany, Sweden, Austria, the Faroe Islands and Kazakhstan.

British sides will clash in Group A after Scotland and Wales were drawn together with Croatia, Serbia, Belgium, and Macedonia.

Northern Ireland were matched with Portugal, Russia, Israel, Azerbaijan and Luxembourg in Group F.

World champions Spain will play former world champions France in their qualifying campaign to reach the finals in Brazil in 2014 following Saturday's gala preliminary round draw.

Spain were the last name drawn in the European qualifying group and will also play Belarus, Georgia and Finland.

The Netherlands, who lost last year's final to Spain in South Africa, will face Turkey, Hungary, Romania, Estonia and Andorra as they bid to return to South America, where they lost the 1978 final in Argentina.

A total of 166 teams were involved in the draw for five of six FIFA's confederations with no draw for the South American zone as their nine teams play in one league. Hosts Brazil have qualified automatically for the first finals they will stage since 1950.

South Africa, who hosted the last World Cup, face neighbours Botswana as they attempt to reach the finals again.

Asian champions Japan face Uzbekistan, Syria and North Korea in their section while African champions Egypt should coast through to the next round of their competition after being paired with Guinea, ZImbabwe and either Comoros or Mozambique who play in a preliminary qualifier.

World Cup 2014: European qualifying draw

Eurosport / Reuters

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