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The Best & Worst Draws Ireland Could Get For The Uefa Nations League

nations league

The draw for the 2020 Uefa Nations League will be made on Tuesday and Stephen Kenny will discover his first opponent as Republic of Ireland manager.

Kenny, the Under-21 manager, will succeed Mick McCarthy as Ireland boss following the conclusion of the Euro 2020 campaign.

His first competitive game will be in the Nations League in September.

nations league

Nations League

This will be the second outing of the Uefa tournament. In 2018, Ireland finished bottom of their group which also contained Wales and Denmark. The Boys in Green were relegated to League C. However, Uefa restructured the competition and Ireland regained their place in League B. The upcoming edition could play a pivotal role in the team’s quest to qualify for the 2022 World Cup.

If Ireland win their group in the autumn, they will be guaranteed a play-off to reach the tournament in Qatar – should they fail to qualify through the qualification group.

Kenny’s task will be more difficult than that of his predecessor as there are only 13 places at the World Cup for European countries, while 24 teams qualify for the European Championships this summer. Guaranteeing a play-off place by a winning their Nations League group will be a godsend for Kenny and the Ireland team.

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Here are the best and worst draws Ireland can get from Tuesday’s draw.

The Boys in Green are in Pot 3 of League B. They cannot be drawn in a group with Northern Ireland, Slovakia or Turkey, as they are also in Pot 3.

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Nations League pots

Here are the pots:

  • Pot 1 – Russia, Austria, Wales, Czech Republic
  • Pot 2 – Scotland, Norway, Serbia, Finland
  • Pot 3 – Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland, Slovakia, Turkey
  • Pot 4 – Bulgaria, Israel, Hungary, Romania

Based on the current Fifa world rankings, this is the most difficult group Ireland could get:

  1. Wales
  2. Serbia
  3. Republic of Ireland
  4. Romania

This is the easiest group Ireland could get, based on the current Fifa world rankings:

  1. Czech Republic
  2. Finland
  3. Republic of Ireland
  4. Israel

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Best and worst draws Ireland could get

While Ireland are third seeds, it is fair to say that they should not fear the most difficult group on paper. When Martin O’Neill was the manager, the Boys in Green finished behind Serbia and ahead of Wales in qualification for the 2018 World Cup. Ireland did, however, lose twice to Wales in the previous edition of the Nations League.

Given this is will be a new era under Kenny, it would be interesting to see the national team face some unfamiliar opponents. Anyone bar Russia from Pot 1 would arguably constitute a decent draw for Ireland.

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In Pot 2, Finland, Scotland or Norway would represent manageable draws for Ireland. Scotland would, of course, be a better draw for supporters and easier to access than either of the Scandanavian countries.

All four countries in Pot 4 still have a chance to qualify for Euro 2020 through the Nations League playoff later this month. Israel, the lowest-ranked side in this group, would represent a winnable draw for Ireland.

Back in 2005, the country scuppered Ireland’s chances of qualifying for the 2006 World Cup, when Brian Kerr was the manager, after the Boys in Green dropped four points against Israel.

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Nations League calendar

The games will be played across the following dates:

Matchday 1: 3–5 September 2020
Matchday 2: 6–8 September 2020
Matchday 3: 8–10 October 2020
Matchday 4: 11–13 October 2020
Matchday 5: 12–14 November 2020
Matchday 6: 15–17 November 2020

Although he won’t be the Ireland manager for the games, McCarthy will attend the Nations League draw in Amsterdam. Uefa rules stipulate that the current national team coach must attend the event.

You can watch the Nations League draw below:

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