Seedings leave tough qualifying groups in Europe

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The Independent Online

Former champions England and Germany could end up in the same qualifying group for the 2002 World Cup when the preliminary draw is conducted on Tuesday, according to the seedings list announced today.

Former champions England and Germany could end up in the same qualifying group for the 2002 World Cup when the preliminary draw is conducted on Tuesday, according to the seedings list announced today.

England and Italy, another former champion, were not among the top nine seeded nations from Europe.

The seedings list was based on the qualifications for the upcoming 2000 European Championship and the results of the 1998 World Cup in France.

The nine seeded teams in Europe are Spain, Romania, Norway, Sweden, Netherlands, Czech Republic, Germany, Belgium and Yugoslavia.

There will be five pots at the draw, four with nine teams each and one with 14.

Teams from the same pot will not end up in the same group. There will be nine groups.

The qualifying system resembles the method used in the Euro 2000 qualifying.

Pot B consists of Austria, Portugal, Italy, Scotland, Ukraine, Russia, England, Turkey and Denmark.

Pot C has Ireland, Croatia, Slovakia, Israel, Bulgaria, Greece, Switzerland, Poland and Lithuania.

Cyprus, Hungary, Finland, Iceland, Macedonia, Latvia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Slovenia and Wales are in Pot D.

The largest Pot E consists of Georgia, Armenia, Estonia, Northern Ireland, Albania, Faroe Islands, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Moldova, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Malta, San Marino and Andorra.

The draw starts with Pot E and ends with Pot A.

The tournament format for the nine groups will be the league system on a home and away basis.

The nine group winners qualify directly for the finals in japan and South Korea.

The nine runners-up will be put into one pot. Four European play-off pairings will provide for more direct qualifiers. The remaining European runner-up will contest a play-off against the third-placed team from Asian qualifications, with the winner advancing.

All play-off games will be on home and away basis.

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