Ireland eagerly await UEFA Championship draw
The Republic of Ireland will, in every sense, be smack in the middle of the draw in Warsaw on Sunday for the qualification series of the UEFA EURO 2012.
Ireland will be in the third of six pots after being placed 25th of UEFA's 53 member national associations based on UEFA's new coefficient ranking list.
The system takes into account results in the Championship finals of FIFA World Cup and UEFA Championships as well as the qualifying tournaments. The rankings were finalised after the completion of the qualifying series for the World Cup of 2010 in South Africa.
The reigning European Champions, Spain, are automatically accorded the distinction of top seeds under the new system. They are one of nine top seeds who will be in Pot One for the draw and the others are Germany, Netherlands, Italy, England, Croatia, Portugal, France and Russia.
The finals of the 2012 tournament will be played in Poland and Ukraine who, of course, will occupy two of the final positions. That leaves the 51 other member national associations of UEFA battling for 14 qualifying places.
They will be divided into six groups of six teams and three groups of five with the winners of the nine groups automatically qualifying for the finals.
One runner-up, the team with the best record against the teams first, third, fourth and fifth in their group, will also qualify directly for the final tournament.
The eight remaining runners-up will contest play-off matches over two legs in November 2011. The competition is scheduled to get underway next September and the qualifying programme will finish in October 2011 to allow time for the play-offs. Some matches may be played as early as April next.
This will be the 14th celebration of a competition that was won in its inaugural year of 1960 by the former USSR. The Henri Delaunay Cup, named after the General Secretary of the French Football Association who championed the concept, was presented to team captain Igor Netto in Parc des Princes, Paris.
The USSR defeated Yugoslavia 2-1 with a goal in extra time. The winning captain, Netto, died on March 30, 1999.
The original trophy was presented for the last time to Theodoros Zagorakis, captain of Greece who won the competition in Portugal in 2004.
The replacement trophy, in the same style and shape as the original but bigger by 12 cm at 60 cm, was presented to Iker Casillas, captain of Spain in 2008 in Vienna.
The seeding pots for the draw will be set up as follows:
Pot 1: Spain (holders), Germany, Netherlands, Italy, England, Croatia, Portugal, France, Russia
Pot 2: Greece, Czech Republic, Sweden, Switzerland, Serbia, Turkey, Denmark, Slovakia, Romania
Pot 3: Israel, Bulgaria, Finland, Norway, Republic of Ireland, Scotland, Northern Ireland, Austria, Bosnia-Herzegovina
Pot 4: Slovenia, Latvia, Hungary, Lithuania, Belarus, Belgium, Wales, FYR Macedonia, Cyprus
Pot 5: Montenegro, Albania, Estonia, Georgia, Moldova, Iceland,
Armenia, Kazakhstan, Liechtenstein
Pot 6: Azerbaijan, Luxembourg, Malta, Faroe Islands, Andorra, San Marino