Gareth Southgate's side might also come up against neighbours Wales or Scotland, although Ukraine could also take the last spot in the European play-offs, to be decided in June.

In a break with recent tradition, hosts Qatar will not feature in the tournament's opening match on 21 November. That honour will go to Senegal's Group A match with the Netherlands at 1:00pm (1000 GMT). The Qataris, in their first ever match at a World Cup finals, face Ecuador that evening.


Reigning champions France will meet familiar foes Denmark and Tunisia in Group D, which will be completed by the winners of an intercontinental play-off -- either Australia, Peru or the United Arab Emirates.

France and England would be on a collision course to meet in the quarter-finals if they top their groups.

Record five-time winners Brazil will play Serbia and Switzerland -- two teams they already met in their group four years ago -- as well as Cameroon in a tough-looking Group G.

Two-time champions Argentina drew Saudi Arabia, Mexico and Robert Lewandowski's Poland in Group C.

Last chance for Messi and Ronaldo?

It might be Lionel Messi's last chance to win a World Cup as he turns 35 in June.

The same goes for Cristiano Ronaldo, who will be approaching 38 when Portugal come up against Ghana, Uruguay and South Korea in Group H.

Croatia, runners-up in 2018, were drawn with Belgium and Morocco in Group F, which is completed by a Canada side back at the World Cup after 36 years.

This will be the first World Cup held in November and December, the move from the usual June and July slot necessary because of the extreme heat in Qatar at that time of year.

Europe's leading leagues will play on the weekend of November 12-13 before players head to Qatar, leaving little time for national teams to prepare.

"Players will be fresher than they normally would be at a World Cup, but the lack of time is a handicap, albeit it is the same for everyone," said Spain's Luis Enrique.

Friday's event in Doha was attended by 2,000 guests, and featured former World Cup winners Cafu and Lothar Matthaeus among the draw assistants.

'See Qatar as promised'

The Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, said in a speech at the draw he was "proud and happy that the world will see Qatar as we promised", promising an "exceptional World Cup in our Arab world".

The build-up to Qatar 2022 has been dominated by off-field issues surrounding the awarding of the tournament.

It is the most controversial World Cup in history, with Qatar dogged ever since it was named host in 2010 by accusations of vote-buying -- which were hotly denied -- and questions over the country's suitability.

Concerns remain over the treatment of gay and transgender supporters coming to a country where homosexuality is illegal, as well as over the working conditions of hundreds of thousands of migrant labourers.

Read more from Football
Post Comment