World Cup 2022: England draw Poland in Qatar 2022 qualification group, Wales face Belgium

England will face Poland in their qualification group for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar; Wales take on world number one ranked Belgium in their group; Scotland face Denmark; Northern Ireland drawn with Italy; Republic of Ireland play Portugal

England will beging qualification for the 2022 World Cup in March next year
Image: England will begin qualification for the 2022 World Cup in March next year

England were drawn with Poland in their qualification group for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, while Wales will take on the world's top-ranked team Belgium.

England, one of the top seeds, will be pleased with the group they were handed, with Poland and Hungary the highest ranked of their opponents, while Wales will also have to get past Czech Republic to qualify for the 2022 showpiece.

Scotland avoided many of the top sides in Europe, with Denmark and Austria the sides ranked highest of their opponents.

Republic of Ireland's task will be all the more tougher as they will welcome Cristiano Ronaldo and Portugal to Dublin, while Northern Ireland have been drawn in the same group as Italy and Switzerland.

Stephen Kenny 1:24
Republic of Ireland manager Stephen Kenny says his side are excited for the upcoming World Cup qualification campaign

In total, 55 teams were split into five groups of five and five groups of six.

The winners of the 10 groups will qualify automatically for the finals, which for the first time will be played in November and December of 2022 to avoid the punishing summer heat in the Middle East.

A further three places will be fought out between the 10 group runners-up and the two highest-ranked teams from the Nations League who have not already qualified or finished in a runners-up spot.

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These 12 teams will be divided into three play-off paths, each featuring four countries, to determine the final three European berths.

Wales caretaker manager Rob Page 0:51
Wales' caretaker manager Robert Page is unfazed despite seeing them drawn in the same World Cup 2022 European Qualifying Group as Belgium

World Cup qualification draw in full

Group A: Portugal, Serbia, Republic of Ireland, Luxembourg, Azerbaijan

Group B: Spain, Sweden, Greece, Georgia, Kosovo

Group C: Italy, Switzerland, Northern Ireland, Bulgaria, Lithuania

Group D: France, Ukraine, Finland, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Kazakhstan

Group E: Belgium, Wales, Czech Republic, Belarus, Estonia

Group F: Denmark, Austria, Scotland, Israel, Faroe Islands, Moldova

Group G: Netherlands, Turkey, Norway, Montenegro, Latvia, Gibraltar

Group H: Croatia, Slovakia, Russia, Slovenia, Cyprus, Malta

Group I: England, Poland, Hungary, Albania, Andorra, San Marino

Group J: Germany, Romania, Iceland, North Macedonia, Armenia, Liechtenstein

Northern Ireland boss Ian Baraclough 1:22
Northern Ireland boss Ian Baraclough says his side face a tough World Cup qualifying campaign and hopes he will have a large selection of fit players to choose from for the matches

When will the qualifiers be played?

The qualifiers will be played between March and November 2021, with play-offs scheduled for March 2022.

Matchday 1: March 24-25 2021
Matchday 2: March 27-28 2021
Matchday 3: March 30-31 2021
Matchday 4: September 1-2 2021
Matchday 5: September 4-5 2021
Matchday 6: September 7-8 2021
Matchday 7: October 8-9 2021
Matchday 8: October 11-12 2021
Matchday 9: November 11-13 2021
Matchday 10: November 14-16 2021
Play-offs: March 24, 25, 28, 29 2022

What's the fixture schedule?

Southgate: Young England can peak on road to Qatar

England manager Gareth Southgate before the international friendly against Republic of Ireland at Wembley Stadium 0:42
England manager Gareth Southgate says their World Cup qualification group has 'great history' within it, as Poland and Hungary are among the other top seeds which make up the group

Gareth Southgate says he is excited to see his youthful England squad mature on the road to the 2022 World Cup after learning their qualification route.

Captain Harry Kane will be 29 by the end of the qualification campaign, with other key players such as Raheem Sterling and Jack Grealish turning 27.

Meanwhile, younger talents like Phil Foden and Bukayo Saka will be 22 and 21, respectively, by the time Qatar 2022 begins.

Southgate said: "I think that even in two years' time (we will see the benefit). In our last qualification campaign, we had nine players involved who were eligible for the Under-21s still, so we had an incredibly young group which means for two, four and six years time - with some of the other players who are coming through the system too - there is huge potential.

"We have got to keep winning in the present as well. We have a nice balance, it has been young up to this point but for the next few years that is very exciting."

England's forgotten 2018 World Cup heroes

Sky Sports News reporter Kaveh Solhekol examines why some of England's 2018 FIFA World Cup heroes have struggled to break into the fold since that unforgettable campaign in Russia...

How times change. In July 2018, one of the youngest England World Cup squads returned home from Russia as heroes.

2:04
Sky Sports News' Kaveh Solhekol examines why some of England's 2018 World Cup heroes have struggled to break into the Three Lions squad since the tournament in Russia

After 52 years of hurt, here was a group of young men who had not been burdened by carrying the weight of expectation that comes with representing England in a major tournament.

There had been no scandals and no controversies. The 23 players laughed and joked together at their training base outside St Petersburg. There were no egos and no tantrums.

The players lived and worked together in perfect harmony and relations with the media were so warm that there was even a daily game of darts between players and journalists. On the pitch, the players captured the imagination of the fans back home by playing with freedom and discipline and captain Harry Kane came home with the Golden Boot.

But what went wrong for the forgotten men of Russia 2018? Who has taken their place and is there any chance of them getting back in time to play in Euros next summer or in Qatar 2022?

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