World Cup qualifying decided

Northern Ireland have been drawn against Czech Republic, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia and San Marino. If we can beat Spain, the Czech Republic and Poland will be no problem.

Full draw here. Scotland and the Republic should do well in their groups.

I used to write and get paid, now I read and don’t.

Former UUP staffer, currently living in London. @mjshilliday

  • agh

    for completeness:
    Group 4 Germany, Russia, Finland, WALES, Azerbaijan, Liechtenstein

    Group 6 Croatia, ENGLAND, Ukraine, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Andorra

    Group 8 Italy, Bulgaria, Republic of Ireland, Cyprus, Georgia, Montenegro

    Group 9 Holland, SCOTLAND, Norway, FYR Macedonia, Iceland

    Considering some of the other 1st and 2nd seeds we’ve done okay with poland and the czechs. In saying that it’s disapointing not to get a ‘glamour tie’ – always nice to see the likes of Spain or England coming over.
    Apart from england I can’t see any of the home nations topping the groups – in fact they’ll be doing well to scrape a 2nd place.

  • Outsider

    I’m not sure where these away wins will come from with the exception of San Marino.

    Its not that long ago that Poland leathered us at Windsor park and I’m not sure if we can pick up any points against either them of the Czech Republic.

  • IJP

    All these groups are a really tough call – I mean, in ’04 groups we thought Greece might be quite easy…!

    Basically I’m not pleased, but you never know. Outsider is right that Poland gave us a right good tonking last time, but that was in the bad old days – and return in Poland was 0-0 to the last three minutes or so. The Czechs are talented but potentially in transition (still managed to smack Germany 3-0 away last month mind). Slovakia and Slovenia are no mugs either. It’s like anything – if we’re well organized, defend well, and win our home games we could nick a play-off place. But we could just as easily come fifth.

    RoI’s group is tough, no two ways about it. Italy should top it, and all the other teams including Cyprus (from recent nasty experience) provide a tough test. RoI need to take four points off most of them – not easy.

    Scotland’s group is nasty too, in my view. There are three teams in with a chance of top place (and then a second place likely to deliver a play-off position), but to compete Scotland will not only need to perform well against those teams, but also take full points off Iceland (ask NI how tough that is) and Macedonia (ask England how tough that is). Since it was Georgia and Ukraine away which proved decisive this last time, it could be that a stumble in Skopje or Reykjavik proves costly.

    Wales is basically impossible as far as I can see – fourth wouldn’t be bad out of that lot. Germany and Russia are both at Euro 2004, and Finland, like Russia, has a talented foreign trainer (ironically English) getting them to play well above themselves. Azerbaijan away is never fun either.

    For England, frankly, a bit of luck. A chance of revenge against Croatia, and two games against a Ukranian team going backwards with half an eye on Euro2012 (which it joint-hosts). More of a headache for the FA’s travel team than the players themselves really. Wonder what Borat will make of it all…?

  • crouton

    Very tough draws for the Republic and NI.Realistically neither will go through and Euro 2012 is the next feasible option. That’ll give all the usual Slugger suspects several years or more to continue the usual sterile debate ad nauseum

  • parci

    crouton hopefully by then we’ll have one irish team, and stand a good chance of qualifying.
    I’m sure thats what everyone wants to see really.

  • kensei

    Hmmmmm tough group, and Montenegro is a wild card. But there is a fair chance teams will take points off each other, and even though they are World Champions, I reckon Italy is not impossible to get a result off. Scotland gave them a good go.

    We need solid home form and to overcome our appalling away record. Looking like Venables, though. Argh!

    England jammy again, Scotland have a decent shot. I have no idea how NI will do. It’s a tough group but they currently have a winning knack at home. A lot will depend if they can maintain that, and if Healy stays fit.

  • agh

    parci, for once i agree – one irish side and a UK side for the rest of us – a good idea!! WELL DONE!!

  • harry

    so Norn Iron have to beat



    Czech Republic.

    some chance.

  • crouton

    ‘Arry, ‘Arry, ‘Arry

    NI aren’t drawn to play Spain-know whadda mean, ‘Arry?

  • ulsterfan

    Too difficult for us to qualify.
    We are good at taking part but will not get out of group stage.
    Same applies to ROI.

  • aaron

    who do we think will have the bigger home support at NI v Poland at Windsor 🙂

  • Chris Donnelly

    Decent enough draw for us- Italy should win the group, leaving us to do battle with the Bulgarians for the second place play-off spot.

    The Cypriots, Georgians and Montenegrans won’t be a pushover, but looking across the groups we could’ve done worse than be pooled with these opponents.

    The north face a daunting task to qualify given that the Czechs and Poles won’t be underestimating the team like the Spaniards and Swedes did- though you gotta admire Shilliday’s optimism.

    As for the rest, England should win the group this time round- the Croats were a much better draw for them than either the Czechs or the Italians, and I fancy the Scots for a play off spot.

    Roll on the Autumn!

  • Prince Eoghan


    Beware the Georgians, we were lucky to beat them at Hampden, and they tore the claes aff us in Tiblisi.

    >>I fancy the Scots for a play off spot.<< As do I!

  • Dewi

    Germany, Russia, Finland, WALES, Azerbaijan, Liechtenstein

    Hells Bells – sounds like a World War 2 re-run – except for Liechenstein – the two key games for Wales in this group !

    On NI – I bet anyone a lot of dosh that we’ll have piles of stories of fans travelling to Slovakia not Slovenia or vice versa…otherwise not a bad group and Scotland pretty lucky.

  • I’m quite happy with this draw. If Northern Ireland can keep the momentium flowing I don’t see why we can’t be pushing for second place.

  • Prince Eoghan

    >>and Scotland pretty lucky.<< I think we have a tough group, 3 strong teams and 2 good teams, if ye want to see luck; Group 6 Croatia, ENGLAND, Ukraine, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Andorra There ye go! Surely England will improve, and will Croatia be as good next time? The Ukraine will be difficult in Kiev, but will undoubtedly fall apart at Wembley.

  • Billy Pilgrim

    “Surely England will improve, and will Croatia be as good next time? The Ukraine will be difficult in Kiev, but will undoubtedly fall apart at Wembley.”

    Totally disagree. There’s absolutely no reason to suspect England will improve – they’ve been steadily going backwards since 1970, and still there isn’t the slightest hint that they humility they’ll need to turn the corner is on the horizon.

    It astonishes me that anyone would assume they’ll have their revenge on Croatia after the Croats Magnificent Magyared their arses last week. Croatia’s home and away victories over England were no flukes, they were simply the natural result when two teams of different levels of quality meet. Croatia will beat England home and away once again, unless English football does the needful and has a personality transplant.

    Chances are Ukraine will beat them too and England will finish third.

    Though of course if they appoint Capello, there’s a chance they might improve. The fact that they probably won’t appoint Capello only indicates why English football is so thoroughly mediocre.

  • terry

    Loooking forward to Italy away already.

    The Italians rotate venues, but should be a good away trip. Should also do the Bulgaria away one.

    Group could have been worse.

    Happy enough.

    ‘Come On you Lurgan Boys In Green’

  • Harry Flashman

    *Totally disagree. There’s absolutely no reason to suspect England will improve*

    I’m with you Billy, the idea that England have got it easy is exactly the mentality that landed England in the mess they’re in now. England are simply not a great side yet they assume they are one of football’s superpowers, they’re not.

    Everyone just assumed Croatia would just roll over in Wembley before the mighty English forgetting that the Croats had already beaten them earlier in the qualifiers. The Croats played with passion and verve while the English simply hoofed the ball up the field hoping it would connect with big Crouchie’s bonce.

    The only way England will get through their group is if they approach their opponents with respect and realise their own woeful limitations. If they do that, and I for one hope they do, they might get through, but for us all to sit here and say they’ve got it easy, well there’s a lot of Ukrainians and Belorussians who watched the match last week and who’ll be thinking their boys are in with a good shot at the second place behind Croatia.

  • I’ve got relatively mixed feelings about the group. Slovenia, Slovakia and Poland were pretty horrible draws given the alternatives in their pots. The Czechs are very efficient at qualifying and rarely stumble until they actually get to a tournament. That said, I don’t think there’s anyone we can’t get at least 4 points off in that group if we play like we can and have a bit of fortune.

    In terms of trips – the countries are fairly accessible, most are serviced by budget airlines and none should be outrageously expensive. Hopefully we’ll organise things like the Republic and do a double-header vs. Czechs and Slovakia. Two of the teams we’ve played in the recent past, but that said both were two of the best trips I’ve been on.

  • Jim All is Star


    How’s it goin wit ya?

  • celticbhoy

    healy scoring against the holy goalie. not a chance

  • Some speculate Englad will hire Croatian coach Slaven Bilic…