‘Road to Russia’
World Cup draw sets up home nations tie
France’s Euro 2016 may be occupying the minds of many international footballers at the moment, yet just two years further down the road and there is an even bigger contest in the waiting.
The 2018 Russian World Cup has been in the news for all the wrong reasons since the nation was announced as the hosts five years ago, with concerns over everything from racism to bribery appearing from stakeholders.
However, last weekend, a bit of positivity was shone on the controversial hosts as the draw for the European qualifying groups was made in St Petersburg.
England have most notably been drawn up against near-neighbours Scotland in Group F, whilst Slovakia, Slovenia, Lithuania and Malta make up the rest of the numbers.
It is a group which the Three Lions should progress from, and one which fans will expect their countrymen to win.
England manager Roy Hodgson, who could be out of contract by the time of the tournament, rated the team’s chances of qualifying as ‘good’ speaking after the draw had been made.
“I'm pleased to come away with a good group and if England want me to lead the team I will be delighted to do so,” Hodgson said.
“If we can come through Euro 2016 without too many tears being shed I believe we have a good chance of qualifying for 2018.
“It is positive, so many other groups would have been more problematic, not least for fans travelling, some are not such easy countries to get to, but we’ve been drawn not only nice places but easy to get to as well.”
Meanwhile, Northern Ireland will face a tough test in their group as they come up against world champions Germany, whilst Wales and Ireland will face off in Group D.