Anticipation for the Middle East’s first World Cup will shoot up a notch today when the draw for the tournament takes place in Qatar.
From the firm favourites to the plucky longshots, countries will get an idea of who they have to beat to progress to the latter stages.
The day of the draw began with a protest outside FIFA headquarters in Zurich. German artist Volker-Johannes Trieb used balls filled with sand to protest against the suffering of migrant workers in Qatar who have worked on the infrastructure related to the World Cup.
Here’s all you need to know.
When is the draw for the Qatar World Cup?
It begins at the Doha Exhibition & Convention Center at 18:00 CEST on 1 April and lasts for one hour.
When is the Qatar World Cup taking place?
Due to sweltering summer temperatures in Qatar, the tournament has been moved to later in the year. It will take place in the middle of Europe’s domestic football season, from 21 November to 18 December 2022.
How will the draw work?
There will be 32 teams involved in the tournament, but 37 in the draw, because there are still qualifying matches undecided, in particular involving Ukraine.
Teams will be split into eight groups of four, with 16 advancing to the latter stages of the contest.
Which countries have qualified for the Qatar World Cup?
- South Korea
- Saudi Arabia
- United States
Who will take the final three slots?
Ukraine was originally scheduled to play Scotland in a European playoff, but the match was postponed until June because of Russia’s invasion.
The winner plays Wales for Europe’s final spot.
Costa Rica finished fourth in the North and Central America and the Caribbean qualifying group and goes into an intercontinental playoff against New Zealand.
Brazil, Argentina, Ecuador and Uruguay have qualified in South America. Peru defeated Paraguay 2-0 on Tuesday night for fifth place and will compete for a berth against the winner of Asia’s fifth-place playoff between Australia and the United Arab Emirates on 7 June.
What happened in World Cup qualifying matches this week?
Football star Cristiano Ronaldo got another shot at lifting the World Cup after helping Portugal to qualify for the tournament.
His Manchester United teammate Bruno Fernandes scored twice as they beat North Macedonia, who had knocked outItaly last week.
“Goal achieved, we are at the Qatar World Cup, we are in our rightful place! Thank you to all the Portuguese for the tireless support! Portugal strong!” Ronaldo posted to social media in Portuguese.
The World Cup trophy is the one prize that has eluded Ronaldo, a five-time Ballon d’Or winner.
While the 37-year old is set to be a key part of Portugal’s team in Qatar later this year, his fellow Premiership star Mohamed Salah will miss out.
Salah missed from the penalty spot as Senegal advanced at the expense of Egypt.
Senegal advanced on a penalty shootout for one of Africa’s five berths after fans shone lasers in Salah’s face while he stepped up to take Egypt’s first penalty kick. He blasted his attempt over the crossbar while he had green-coloured lasers pointed at his face and body.
Salah’s Liverpool teammate Sadio Mané struck the winning penalty after the teams drew 1-1 on aggregate, sending Senegal to its third World Cup. Mané also had the shootout winner against Egypt in the African Cup of Nations final on 6 February.
Elsewhere, Robert Lewandowski converted a penalty in the 50th minute and Poland secured its second straight World Cup berth with a 2-1 victory over Sweden in another European playoff. It was Lewandowski’s 75th international goal in 129 appearances.
Ghana qualified after a 1-1 draw with Nigeria behind Thomas Partey’s 10th-minute goal to advance on away goals. The Black Stars, who eliminated the US in 2006 and 2010, will be making their fourth World Cup appearance.
Algeria won its first leg, vying to qualify after missing out on the 2018 World Cup, but Cameroon came back with a 2-1 victory on Tuesday on Karl Toko Ekambi’s goal in the fourth minute of the second extra-time period to advance on away goals.
Morocco downed the Democratic Republic of the Congo 4-1 to secure its spot 5-2 on aggregate. Tunisia played to a scoreless draw with Mali and qualified with a 1-0 aggregate victory.
Canada has already clinched a spot in North and Central America and the Caribbean, its first World Cup appearance in 36 years.
The United States and Mexico also secured their berths at the World Cup this week.