The Malta national team will discover their opponents in the 2022 World Cup qualifiers when the world governing body FIFA will hold the draw in a virtual event on Monday in Zurich (start: 6pm).
The national team are approaching the World Cup qualifiers with renewed optimism after their bright showing in the UEFA Nations League preliminary stage.
In fact, Devis Mangia’s men secured their highest-ever placing in a qualifying group when placing second in the group with a record tally of nine points and just missed out on promotion to League C.
Added to that Malta are on a seven-match unbeaten run and during the past two months have managed to climb ten places in the FIFA world rankings and are now placed 176th.
The national team will be in Pot 6 for today’s draw alongside Moldova, Liechtenstein, Gibraltar and San Marino.
Belgium are the top seeds in today’s draw and are joined in Pot 1 by France, England, Portugal, Spain, Italy, Croatia, Denmark, Germany and the Netherlands.
Malta will not be paired with any of the four sides who qualified for the semi-finals in the UEFA Nations League, namely Belgium, France, Italy and Spain, who will be pitted in a group of five teams.
As Pot 6 contains only five teams, these teams will be drawn into the sixth position in groups F to J.
The national team’s potential opponents from Pot 1 are England, Portugal, Croatia, Denmark, Germany and the Netherlands.
The teams drawn will be allocated to a group in alphabetical order, from Group A to Group J. When a draw constraint applies or is anticipated to apply, the team drawn will be allocated to the first available group in alphabetical order as indicated by the draw constraint programme.
All teams within a group will play each other twice in a home-and-away format between March and November 2021. The ten group winners will qualify directly for Qatar 2022, with the ten runners-up advancing to the play-offs.
Besides the ten runners-up from the group stage, the play-offs will also include the two best group winners from the UEFA Nations League 2020-21 overall ranking that did not qualify directly for the FIFA World Cup 2022 and did not enter the play-offs as runners-up.
The 12 teams will be split into three play-off paths, which will feature single-leg knockout matches in March 2022 to determine the last three European nations to book a place in Qatar.
Pot 1: Belgium, France, England, Portugal, Spain, Italy, Croatia, Denmark, Germany, Netherlands.
Pot 2: Switzerland, Wales, Poland, Sweden, Austria, Ukraine, Serbia, Turkey, Slovakia, Romania.
Pot 3: Russia, Hungary, Republic of Ireland, Czech Republic, Norway, Northern Ireland, Iceland, Scotland, Greece, Finland.
Pot 4: Bosnia and Herzegovina, Slovenia, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Albania, Bulgaria, Israel, Belarus, Georgia, Luxembourg.
Pot 5: Armenia, Cyprus, Faroe Islands, Azerbaijan, Estonia, Kosovo, Kazakhstan, Lithuania, Latvia, Andorra.
Pot 6: Malta, Moldova, Liechtenstein, Gibraltar, San Marino.