Russia, hosts for the 2018 World Cup, have repeatedly been criticised for failure to tackle racism in domestic soccer. The European draw is scheduled to take place after Africa so should begin relatively soon after proceedings get underway.
He added: “I’m going to serve a sentence for being abused… and yet we (are) going to hold a World Cup in this country”. Automatic qualification will be the reward for each group victor. FIFA’s official site states those sudden death fixtures will be played in November 2017.
Other teams in pot two are Gambia, Liberia, Central African Republic, Chad, Mauritius, Seychelles, Comoros, Sao Tome and Principe, South Sudan, Eritrea, Somalia and Djibouti. The qualifying groups conclude in October, 2017, between the 8th and the 10th.
Martin O’Neill’s side face an uphill task to book their ticket for Euro 2016 in France and an underwhelming qualification campaign for that tournament has had a knock-on effect on Ireland’s chances of securing a favourable draw. Heavyweights such as Mexico and United States of America await those winners in Round 4.
In the group stage teams will play home-and-away round-robin matches. The order of play will be revealed in the draw.
England and Wales’ impressive form over the past 12 months have earned both of them top seeding spots for the qualifying campaign, as they bid to reach the finals.
Hulk had initially said he was honoured after being named as a draw participant on Wednesday.
Zenit St Petersburg’s Hulk has pulled out of Saturday’s 2018 World Cup qualifying draw.
The Brazil worldwide was set to join the likes of Ronaldo, Fabio Cannavaro and Samuel Eto’o for the ceremony in Saint Petersburg on Saturday.
One issue that does concern Villas-Boas is the Russian government policy of restricting clubs to selecting no more than five foreign players in any team.
However, former Russian Federation global Alexey Smertin will replace Hulk, who is due to feature for Andre Villas-Boas’s side against Ural on Sunday.
Sepp Blatter confirmed earlier this week that he will step down as president after 17 years at the head of the game’s governing body when a new president is elected at an extraordinary elective congress on February 26. It wants to see concerted action ahead of the World Cup. Given his current situation, the Frenchman’s presence at the Konstantin Palace is sure to raise an eyebrow or two in disapproval.