This Saturday is the date for the World Cup qualifying draws for the next tournament in Russia with the event three years away, and it can get confusing without prior knowledge to what on earth is going on during the whole process.
Luckily for you, we’ve gathered all the information you need ahead of time. Now it’s just the painful waiting on Sky Sports News for the actual draw to begin, with all the “excellent” entertainment on show beforehand.
So, without forever adieu, what will you need? Lots and lots of coffee, if Blatter is speaking..
First of all, a whopping 141 nations across five continents will take place in the draw, excluding Gilbraltar, who are not members of FIFA, and Zimbabwe, because they’ve failed to pay their coach.
European sides will be in nine groups – seven with six teams and two consisting of five sides. Obviously, the nine group winners will progress automatically to the tournament, whilst the eight best runners-up will contest each other in play-offs in November, 2017.
52 of Europe’s 53 teams will enter the preliminary draw, with the exception of course Russia, being the hosts
whilst 53 teams from Africa, 18 from North, Central America and the Caribbean, 10 from South America and eight from Oceania will join them.
Diego Forlan, Fabio Cannavaro, Ronaldo, Olivier Bierhoff and Samuel Eto’o will participate in choosing the balls, but Hulk will not be in attendance, pulling out due to other commitments.
As you know, nations are seeded into different pots, with FIFA relying on the latest world rankings to decide exactly who goes where.
The 52 European entrants will be drawn into seven groups of six, and two groups of five. Each six-team group will contain one team from the six pots, whereas the two five-team groups will be compromised of one team from each of the first five pots.
On hand to help is a handy grouping of who is in each pot.
Pot One: Germany, Belgium, Netherlands, England, Wales, Romania, Portugal, Spain, Croatia.
Pot two: Italy, Slovakia, Austria, Switzerland, Czech Republic, France, Iceland, Denmark, Bosnia-Herzegovina.
Pot three: Poland, Ukraine, Scotland, Hungary, Sweden, Albania, Northern Ireland, Serbia, Greece.
Pot four: Turkey, Slovenia, Israel, Republic of Ireland, Norway, Bulgaria, Faroe Islands, Montenegro, Estonia.
Pot five: Cyprus, Latvia, Armenia, Finland, Belarus, Macedonia, Azerbaijan, Lithuania, Moldova.
Pot six: Luxembourg, Kazakhstan, Liechtenstein, Georgia, Malta, San Marino, Andorra.
Once the draw is complete, participating teams will have to wait until September, 2016 for their opening qualifying matches, which fall on the weekend of the 4th-6th. The qualifying groups conclude in October, 2017, between the 8th and the 10th.
The Republic of Ireland look set to have a tough group, with fingers crossed that Martin O’ Neill’s team will be in a group with arguably the weakest team in pot one in Romania.
Tune in at 6pm to watch the draw.
For more information, click here.
Callum Connolly, Pundit Arena