Footballs fans in Poland were waiting with bated breath as the much-anticipated draw for next year’s tournament was due to be held in Moscow on Friday afternoon.
Jerzy Dudek, a former Poland goalkeeper who also played for England’s Liverpool and Spain’s Real Madrid, told the PAP news agency that the best scenario for Poland would be to avoid being pitted against Spain and any of the three northern European teams that have qualified for the tournament -- Iceland, Sweden and Denmark -- as well as Mexico in Friday’s draw.
He also mentioned Japan among teams he said could cause Poland problems.
When asked about the "dream group" for Poland, Dudek listed the likes of Iran, Panama or Saudi Arabia as well as Switzerland. He also suggested Poland could handle Uruguay if drawn in the same group.
Meanwhile, according to experts polled by Polish Radio, Poland’s nightmare scenario would be to be handed Spain from pot 2, Costa Rica from pot 3, and Japan from pot 4.
Poland is among the eight top-seeded nations grouped into pot 1 for the World Cup finals draw.
The 32 teams that have qualified for next year’s World Cup in Russia have been divided into four pots for the purposes of the draw, each containing eight teams.
Squads have been grouped into the pots according to their ranking by world football governing body FIFA as of October.
Teams in the same pot cannot be drawn against one another in the group stage of the tournament. The top-ranked teams have been grouped into pot 1.
Poland, which was ranked No. 6 by FIFA in October, has been placed into pot 1 along with Germany, Brazil, Portugal, Argentina, Belgium, France and hosts Russia.
FIFA confirmed the pots for the draw in mid-November after Peru defeated New Zealand and became the last team to qualify for the finals in Russia.
Here are the pots for Friday’s draw:
Russia, Germany, Brazil, Portugal, Argentina, Belgium, Poland, France
Spain, Peru, Switzerland, England, Colombia, Mexico, Uruguay, Croatia
Denmark, Iceland, Costa Rica, Sweden, Tunisia, Egypt, Senegal, Iran
Serbia, Nigeria, Australia, Japan, Morocco, Panama, South Korea, Saudi Arabia
Source: PAP, Polish Radio