World Cup 2022 qualifying: Republic of Ireland draw European champions Portugal alongside Serbia

Republic of Ireland will face Portugal, Serbia, Luxembourg and Azerbaijan in the World Cup 2022 qualifiers; manager Stephen Kenny is hopeful that his squad will be stronger in March and is looking forward to games against competitive opposition

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

Republic of Ireland were drawn alongside Euro 2016 champions Portugal and Serbia in the World Cup 2022 qualifiers.

Republic of Ireland were drawn out of pot three and will come up against Cristiano Ronaldo and Bruno Fernandes in the qualifying stages before the tournament takes place in Qatar in the winter of 2022.

Lower seeds Luxembourg and Azerbaijan make up the remaining spots in the five-team Group A.

Following the draw, manager Stephen Kenny - who is yet to register his first win as the Irish boss - was upbeat about the prospects of his side's form changing soon, and the possibility of finishing high within the group.

republic of ireland
Image: Republic of Ireland failed to qualify for the Euros this summer after a penalty shoot-out defeat in Slovakia

Kenny told Sky Sports News: "It is an exciting group. Obviously Portugal - the European champions, the Nations League champions - and Serbia have great pedigree. Luxembourg are a vastly improved team, and Azerbaijan.

"It's a five-team group which means we've not got the congested three competitive games in March, so it's an interesting group for us."

Republic of Ireland failed to qualify for the European Championships this summer after being beaten on penalties in a play-off in Slovakia.

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Ireland have struggled under Kenny so far, having only managed to score one goal in their first eight games under the 49-year-old's management.

However, despite a stuttering start, Kenny is hopeful that with the return of a number of key players, results will soon improve.

Kenny said: "To lose to Slovakia on penalties was difficult for the players. They worked so hard and performed well on the night.

Caoimhin Kelleher Rep of Ireland
Image: Caoimhin Kelleher started in goal for Liverpool in the club's last two games against Ajax and Wolves

"It's a new campaign - I think we'll have a lot of players back for March. We've given 10 players their international debut in the last couple of months,

"Combined with a lot of the experienced players to come back in, it means our squad will be a lot stronger in March. We look forward to the games, and we've got to do our upmost to try and qualify."

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

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