The road to 2014 FIFA World Cup™ will be set out on Saturday when the Preliminary Draw takes place at the Marina da Gloria in Rio de Janeiro. At 15.00 local time (20.00 CET), the Draw Show will begin and the eyes of the footballing world will focus on Brazil and the fates of the teams hoping to qualify for the finals in just under three years time.
FIFA.com takes you through the event, which will be conducted by FIFA’s Secretary-General, Jerome Valcke. To view the respective pot allocations for each qualifying zone, please click on the link to the right.
The first procedure to take place at the Marina da Gloria is a short but important one. As the Asian, North, Central America and Caribbean, Oceanian and South American Zones all have a place open to them via a two legged play-off, a draw will be made to see which confederations are paired together.
Five minutes later, Cafu and Neymar will take to the stage to assist with the draw for the African qualifying zone. The 24 lowest-ranked participating associations from the region will contest Round One. Those teams will be allocated to two pots of 12 teams based on the FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking of July 2011; the 12 highest ranked teams and the 12 lowest ranked teams. They will be then be drawn against each other to play over two legs on a home and away basis between 11 and 15 November 2011. The winners of those matches advance to Round Two, where they will join the remaining 28 teams from the region. The 40 teams will be drawn into ten round-robin, home-and-away groups, each consisting of four nations. The ten group winners advance to Round Three.
On to Asia
The qualification for the Asian Zone has already reached Round Three following the results of this week’s matches, with the 15 winners of the latest round of qualification (Singapore, China PR, Syria, Uzbekistan, Indonesia, Qatar, Kuwait, Jordan, Oman, Lebanon, UAE, Iraq, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Thailand) joining the five teams who received a bye in the next phase (Japan, Australia, Korea Republic, Bahrain and Korea DPR). Those 20 teams will be allocated to four pots of five teams based on the FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking of July 2011. The top five teams will be placed in Pot 1, the next five best teams will be placed in Pot 2, and so on. The teams will be drawn into five groups of four teams for Round Three by Zico and Lucas, with the teams in Pot 4 placed in position 4 of each group; the teams in Pot 3 in position 3; the teams from Pot 2 in position 2; and the teams from Pot 1 in position 1. The five Round Three group winners and five group runners-up will contest Round Four.
Bebeto and Michel Bastos will then take to the stage to draw the teams for the North, Central America and the Caribbean region. The five Round One winners (Belize, Dominican Republic, US Virgin Islands, St. Lucia and Bahamas) join the 19 next highest-ranked participating teams (based on the FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking of March 2011) which received a bye from Round One. Those teams are will be drawn into six groups of four teams, with the six group winners advancing to Round Three. USA, Mexico and Honduras have been allocated to Pot One, Jamaica, Costa Rica and Cuba in Pot Two, with the six group winners comprising Pot Three. The teams will be drawn into three groups of four for Round Three.
The Oceanian Zone draw will be conducted by Lucas Piazon and Mario Zagallo. In Oceania, the four lowest-ranked Member Associations (based on the FIFA/Coca-Cola Ranking of July 2011, and for sporting reasons) will contest Round One, which will be a central tournament based on a league system and will be played between 21-26 November 2011. The winner of this tournament advances to Round Two, which is also the group stage of the 2012 OFC Nations Cup. These eight teams play in a central tournament between 1-12 June 2011 based on a league system. The four highest-placed teams advance to Round Three. The draw date, location, and procedure for Round Three will be confirmed by the end of Round Two by the Organising Committee for the FIFA World Cup Brazil 2014.
Situation in South America
Given that Brazil, as the Host Nation, do not need to qualify, the South American Zone will consist of nine teams competing for 4.5 places from a single group. All nine teams will be placed in one group and will play each other on a home and away basis between 7 October 2011 and 15 October 2013. The top four teams qualify for the 2014 FIFA World Cup, while the fifth-placed team advances to an intercontinental play-off.
At approximately 16.15 local time, arguably the highlight of the Preliminary Draw takes place when Ronaldo and Paulo Henrique Ganso take to the stage for the European Zone draw. With the pot allocations announced on Wednesday, all it requires is for the 53 teams to be allocated to eight groups of six teams and one group of five teams. However, in consideration of the delicate political relationship between Russia and Georgia, UEFA has requested that FIFA maintain the current UEFA policy of not drawing these teams into the same qualification groups.
FIFA.com will be providing extensive coverage of the preliminary draw in Rio de Janeiro. As well as a Live Draw Application and the popular FanChat, which allows fans from around the world to share their opinions, the official website for Brazil 2014 will be offering exclusive interviews with the stars present, as well as colourful reports from in and around Rio.