How Scotland can qualify for World Cup 2022 playoffs - will Scotland be seeded and what teams could they face?

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It may not have been pleasant viewing, but the turgid 1-0 win over the Faroe Islands has put Scotland on the brink of qualification for the World Cup playoffs.

The victory, which followed the dramatic 3-2 success over Israel at Hampden Park, cemented Scotland’s position in second place in Group F – seven points behind leaders Denmark and four ahead of the third-placed Israelis – with two rounds of fixtures still to play.

Steve Clarke’s men are bidding to reach their first World Cup since 1998 after competing in their first major tournament finals in 23 years at this summer’s European Championships.

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This week’s back-to-back wins over Israel and the Faroes was a significant step towards achieving that goal but what do Scotland still need to do to qualify for next year’s tournament in Qatar?

Scotland players and fans celebrate after the 3-2 win over Israel at Hampden (Photo by Sammy Turner / SNS Group)Scotland players and fans celebrate after the 3-2 win over Israel at Hampden (Photo by Sammy Turner / SNS Group)
Scotland players and fans celebrate after the 3-2 win over Israel at Hampden (Photo by Sammy Turner / SNS Group)

How can Scotland qualify for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar?

The 10 group winners in European qualification will go direct to the finals. Tuesday's results mean it is no longer possible for Scotland to top Group F, with Denmark sealing their spot in Qatar with a 1-0 home win over Austria, who have now been eliminated from the group stages. Clarke’s side are competing to secure the runners-up spot, which will guarantee entry in to the playoffs.

Scotland will clinch second place if they beat Moldova away on November 12. Failure to do so would require a positive result at home to Denmark in the final group match on November 15, unless Israel lose away to Austria in their penultimate fixture then Scotland will qualify for the play-offs regardless of their result in Moldova. Israel’s final group match is at home to the Faroe Islands.

What is the format of the World Cup playoffs?

Securing second place will put Scotland in to a playoff to qualify for Qatar. The playoffs will consist of 12 teams split into three groups of four and consist of a semi-final and a final, meaning only three teams from the 12 will qualify. The playoffs are to be held in March 2022. The draw will be seeded based upon qualifying-round points. The two UEFA Nations League qualifiers will be unseeded.

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Will Scotland be seeded and who could they face in a play-off?

Only the results against the top five placed teams in the group stages count towards seeding points for playoffs, which means, as things stand, Scotland’s results against Moldova would not count towards seeding. Scotland are currently ranked as third seeds with 14 points accumulated thus far. Beating Moldova on November 12 would mean Scotland still remain on 14 seeding points, which is likely to mean that a positive result against Denmark in the final group match would be needed to secure a spot among the six seeded teams.

The seedings as things stand are:

Seeded – 1st Portgual, 16pts, 2nd Switzerland 14pts, 3rd Scotland 14pts, 4th Spain 13pts, 5th Poland 11pts, 6th Croatia 11pts.

Unseeed – 7th Czech Republic 11pts, 8th Norway 11pts, 9th Romania 12pts, 10th Ukraine 11pts, 11th Wales (Nations League), 12th Austria (Nations League).

These positions are all likely to change as we go into the final round of fixtures in November. As far as Scotland are concerned, particular attention will be paid to results involving the likes of Norway, Czech Republic, Croatia, Romania and Poland, who could all knock Scotland out of their seeded position in the final round of fixtures. It is likely Scotland would need at least a point, if not all three, against Denmark on November 15 to clinch a place among the seeded teams.

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