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Gus Keri

A life-long Liverpool fan who resides in New York City and also supports the New York Red Bulls.


The 2014 World Cup Preliminary Draw; What To Look For!

Written by on July 30, 2011 | 22 Comments »
Posted in World Cups

Where will you be on Saturday at 2 pm EST?

I know where I will be; in front of my computer watching the draw for World Cup qualifications to Brazil in three year’s time.

It’s the first major step on the long and difficult road to the finals, which is set to open on June 12th 2014 and concludes with the finale on July 13th 2014.

Nothing beats the excitement and the drama of the preliminary draw unfolding in front of your eyes, except the draw for the finals itself, perhaps.

There is something intriguing about seeing the expectation and prediction of where each team will end up, and watching the reaction of those involved that matches any excitement at a thriller in a movie theater.

In total, there were 203 countries (in addition to Brazil) at the start of the campaign with only one African and three Asian nations declining the invitation.

Five CONCACAF and 23 Asian teams were already eliminated through the preliminary rounds, and we are left with 175 teams.

And because all the South American teams will play in one group and don’t need a draw, there will be a total 166 countries in this draw.

Here is a look at each confederation and what I will be looking for.


Unlike all the other confederations which are using the July FIFA ranking, CONCACAF will be using the March ranking that was used at the preliminary round draw. As a result, Cuba stood to be the main beneficiary of this decision.

In March, and fresh of their success in the Caribbean Cup, Cuba was ranked 6th and was spared the first group stage and will go directly to the second group stage with the other top 6 seeds (US, Mexico, Honduras, Jamaica and Costa Rica).

The team that stood to lose is Panama which is ranked 6th currently, while Cuba currently ranked as 9th.

The first group stage consists of 6 groups of 4 teams. Only the winners of these groups will move on to the next stage.

The 6 seeded teams are: Panama, Canada, El Salvador, Grenada, T&T and Haiti.

(Guatemala  was seeded below these 6 and will make its group very interesting.)

The second group stage will consist of 3 groups of 4 teams and top 2 moved to the final group of 6 (hexagonal).

Top three seeds for this stage are: the USA, Mexico and Honduras

The second seeds are: Jamaica, Costa Rica and Cuba

The third and fourth seeds are the winners of the 6 groups of the first group stage with no particular order.

Note: Every one will be looking forward to getting Cuba in their group except Jamaica and Costa Rica which could not, of course.


A straight forward draw: 53 teams in 9 groups. Top teams qualify to the finals and 8 best runner-ups will play off for the last 4 spot.

The 9th and worst runner-up will be eliminated.

Top seeds are: Spain, Netherlands, Germany, England, Portugal, Italy, Croatia, Norway and Greece.

Second seeds are: France, Montenegro, Russia, Sweden, Denmark, Slovenia, Turkey, Serbia and Slovakia.
(Look for the groups that get France or Russia to dynamite ones)

Other teams to be worried about are:

Switzerland and Republic of Ireland in the third pot

Wales ended up in pot 6 and this is very awkward. Players like Bale, Bellamy, Earnshaw and Ramsey surely deserved better and I wouldn’t want them in my group.

Scotland and Northern Ireland were put in pot 4.


The Lowest ranked 24 teams will play each other on a home and away round and the 12 winners join the top 28 in the group stage.

The group stage consists of 10 groups of 4 teams and only the winners go through to the next stage where there will be 5 play-off home and away round to decide the 5 qualifiers.

The top seeds for the group stage are: Ivory Coast, Egypt, Ghana, Burkina Faso, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, Cameroon, Algeria and Tunisia.

Although we learned from the African competitions that you can’t discount any team out, the only real recognizable threat to the top 10 is going to come from Morocco in the second pot.


The 20 teams that are left will go into 5 groups of 4 and top 2 of each group will go to the next round.

Seeded teams are: Australia, China, Iran, Japan and South Korea

Second seeds are: Jordan, Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Uzbekistan

There are few surprises here. First, the other WC 2010 finalist, North Korea, was put in pot 4 while Bahrain which made it to the last two final intercontinental play-offs was put in pot 3.

China, the perennial failure, on the other hand, was placed in the top seed pot.

Look for every one to wish to get China from pot 1 and avoid Iraq in pot 3.


One of the most complicated system, yet the easiest to predict. No matter what they do to make it look interesting, look for New Zealand to win it and move on to the intercontinental play-off.

(The bottom 4 countries play in one round robin group and the winner join top 7 in the second group stage (2 groups of 4). The top two of each group move on to form the final group of 4. The winner goes to the intercontinental play-off)


I will be adding updates in the comment section below, after the draw. Also I will be adding some comments on my twitter account @guskeri

Enjoy the draw. And may your team get the best draw.

You can get updates through RSS (top of the page), follow at Twitter BobbySoccerRep, or on Facebook

You can also find other Soccer Report contributors on Twitter by following this link.

22 responses to “The 2014 World Cup Preliminary Draw; What To Look For!”

  1. Gus Keri says:

    The fate Of the USA and Canada will be in the hands of Bebeto and Michel Bastos.

    Here is the order of the draw:

    1- Intercontinental play-off match-up: FIFA’s Secretary-General, Jerome Valcke/The host

    2- Africa: Cafu and Neymar

    3- Asia: Zico and Lucas

    4- CONCACAF: Bebeto and Michel Bastos

    5- Oceania: Lucas Piazon and Mario Zagallo

    6- Europe: Ronaldo and Paulo Henrique Ganso

  2. Bobby says:

    The change in format for African qualifying is an improvement I think.

  3. Gus Keri says:


    The last phase of the African qualification is going to be a two edge sword.

    We might get the most exciting play-off ever but also we might see some David beating Goliath type of result and we regret it.

    I still believe the group system as a final stage is the best. But at least Home and away play-off is better than single game elimination round.

  4. Gus Keri says:

    The WC draw:

    The first piece of business was the intercontinental play-off match up:

    CONCACAF 4th team vs. Oceania champion
    Asia 5th team vs CONMEBOL 5th team

  5. Gus Keri says:

    World Cup Draw:

    My first impression was that the draw corrected some of the FIFA ranking mistakes every where except in Europe.


    Guatemala was ranked in the second tier of the first group stage and the draw gave them the weakest of the top seed, Grenada:

    In the second group stage, Cuba was abviously wrong to be seeded 6th. So, the draw gave them the two teams that could have been in thier palce, Panama’s group winner and Canada’s group winner with Honduras.

    The USA and Mexico shouldn’t have any problem in their group:

    The USA with Jamaica, Haiti’s group winner and Guatemala’s group winner

    Mexico with Costa Rica, El Salvador’s group winner and T&T’s group winner

  6. Gus Keri says:

    In asia:

    China was wrongly seeded top and Iraq was wrongly seeded third. So, what did the draw do? It paired them together in one group with Jordan and Singapore.

    The other groups are balanced with Japan getting North Korea as two of the teams that qualified to South Africa in addition to Syria and Uzbekistan

    Australia with Saudi Arabia, Oman and Thailand may be the toughest of the groups

    Korea Republic got Kuwait, UAE and Lebanon
    Iran got Qatar, Bahrain and Indonesia

  7. Gus Keri says:

    In Africa:

    Most of the 10 top seeds should go through to the final play-off round.

    The only tough opposition could come from Morocca which landed in Ivory Coast group with Gambia and the winner of Chad/Tanzania game. But I don’t see Ivory Coast not making it out of this group.

    Ghana was grouped again with Sudan (in addition to Zambia and the winner of Burundi/Lesotho) and these meeting are not going to be easy as the recent meetings between the two countries indicated.

    Senegal’s group is a wide open one with Uganda, Angola and Liberia/Mauritius winner.

  8. Gus Keri says:

    The big story is in Europe.

    France ended up in the world cup holder Spain’s group with Belarus, Georgia and Finland. It’s going to be a long long road for the French.

    Russia, likewise, got Portugal in another tough group (with Israel, Northern Ireland, Azerbaijan and Luxembourg)

    But the toughest and in my opinion is the group of death is group A: Croatia, Serbia, Belgium, Scotland, Macedonia and Wales.
    A British derby and three Balkan derbies with the resurgent Belgium. It can’t get any more difficult for all parties involved.

    England is playing Montenegro (again), Ukraine, Poland, Moldova and San Marino. Another tough road for England.

    Switzerland as a third seed got the best possible draw: Norway, Slovenia, albania, Syprus and Iceland. I see the Swiss as a winner

    Republic of Ireland was not so lucky this time. They got Germany, Sweden, Austria, Faroe Islands and Kazakhstan. Germany will cruise through as usual with the Swedes behind them.

    Netherlands should repeat what they did in the last campaign when they were the first team to qualify to South Africa. Should be able to win their group with Turkey, Hungary, Ramania, Estonia and Andora

    Italy’s group is not easy (Denmark, Czech Rep, Bulgaria, Armenia and Malta) but they should go through like they usually do.

    On current form, Greece should dectate things in its group with Slovakia, Bosnia, Lithuania, Latvia and Leichtenstein.

  9. Gus Keri says:

    There was some confusion with the Intercontinental play-off draw. The announcer didn’t understand the procedure and called it wrong.

    Asia 5th will play South America 5th
    CONCACAF 4th will play Oceania 1st

    I appologize for the initial confusion

  10. I think the draws in Europe and CONCACAF will mean some excellent groups – more competitive than we have seen in some past editions. Certainly four or groups perhaps even up to six have the potential to very tight.

    I think all of the countries from pot c in Europe with the exception of maybe Hungary will be quite pleased and quietly confident of at least making it to the play-off round.

    Canada should be pleased although if they get beyond their first group I think Panama will be far dangerous than Cuba. I would expect Cuba to finish bottom of that group even though they were ranked 4 thro 6.

    US should have few problems making it to the Hex round.

  11. Part of the problem with a day like this is the surge of information and possibilities to discuss. And there are games going on as well.

  12. Boris says:

    I am tired of seeing Croatia constantly draw Balkan opponents. It is going to be difficult. It is going to be the toughest group. None of teams look like pushovers.

  13. Gus Keri says:


    Do you think that Canada playing in the first group stage is better than going directly to the last 12, like Cuba?

    I thought, they will have 6 more games to play together and get ready for the next stage.

    Or is it just a silver lining?

  14. Gus – interesting point you bring up here. I think I wld go for the silver lining on this one. Chance to build a bit of confidence, even though the opposition is not the toughest.

  15. Gus Keri says:


    This is perfect situation.
    You don’t need a tough oppositions.

    You need the Canadian team to play some games which are very rare things for them.

    Look at it like pre season games

  16. Roberto Manita says:


    I’m not sure you cleared up the confusion regarding the Intercontinental playoff draw. Both of your postings above are identical and the Guardian has:

    Asia 5th v CONCACAF 4th
    SA 5th v Oceania

    So, I’m even more confused now. We’ll see what FSR has tonight. As long as NA 4th doesn’t have to play SA 5th, I’ll be happy 🙂

  17. Gus Keri says:

    Initially, I had writen:

    Asia 5th v CONCACAF 4th
    SA 5th v Oceania 1st

    then I edited it after I checked the FIFA site:

    the announcer had said it like what the Guardian wrote and I heard it live when I wrote it but apparently he was wrong and many people like me were confused.

    The FIFA site must be the correct one.

  18. Roberto Manita says:

    I counted a total of 6 Asian teams being drawn into the European zone of WC qualification (Armenia, Israel, Azerbaijan, Turkey, Georgia, and Kazakhstan). Who arbitrarily allocated these six nations to Europe in the first place? Borat?

    A couple of SA nations are in CONCACAF (Guyana and Suriname). Maybe Borat came up with that one too. If you’re not happy with the federation you should be in based on geography, just choose another federation. Why not? What’s next? Iceland, Malta, Cyprus, and the Faroe Islands should join Oceania on a whim. After all, they are all surrounded by water and their chances of qualifying would improve 😉

  19. Roberto Manita says:

    Thanks for clearing that up Gus. Cheers.

  20. Roberto Manita says:

    Personally, I would scrap the Oceania zone and incorporate all of those nations into the Asian federation. It just makes simple common sense to me.

  21. I think the States will falter hard under Klinsmann, the expectations are that this coach can undo the problems in the USSoccer system.
    He will not and the States will not make it by a hair through CONCACAF qual.. But, they will beat New Zealand and get in that way.

    France VS Spain, LeBlanc said he wanted to bring the French national team back to glories, that game can be considered his first true test.
    France have the players but like Argentina, will the coach find the form.

    I still pick Ghana to go far in the Brazilian WC. The game against Uruguay could have been won by Ghana. And, that would have been very interesting.
    Overall, we shall see if the CAF sides without a WC in Africa have been doing real development of domestic coaches and having their identity solidified on the pitch.

    @Robert Manita
    nothing geopolitical is ever simple. Just because we all love the beautiful game and watch it played from our local club to the global brands, off the pitch, human society is quite different

  22. Gus Keri says:

    For those who are interested in listening to the announcer making the blunder of the Intercontinental play-off draw, Check minute 21.00 at this site:

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