Football: 2018 World Cup draw - what fans need to know

Zabivaka, the official mascot for the 2018 Fifa World Cup, at Manezhnaya square in downtown Moscow.
Zabivaka, the official mascot for the 2018 Fifa World Cup, at Manezhnaya square in downtown Moscow.PHOTO: AFP

The draw for the 2018 Fifa World Cup Finals takes place in Moscow on Friday (Dec 1) at 6pm (11pm in Singapore) in the State Kremlin Palace. Here is a quick guide to the event.

1. How it works:

Russia, the host nation, despite being lowly ranked, will automatically be in Pot 1 along with the seven highest-ranked teams. Each subsequent pot will then feature the next eight teams in order of their rankings.

2. Pots for the draw

(ranking in brackets):

Pot 1: Russia (65), Germany (1), Brazil (2), Portugal (3), Argentina (4), Belgium (5), Poland (6), France (7).

Pot 2: Spain (8), Peru (10), Switzerland (11), England (12), Colombia (13), Mexico (16), Uruguay (17), Croatia (18).

Pot 3: Denmark (19), Iceland (21), Costa Rica (22), Sweden (25), Tunisia (28), Egypt (30), Senegal (32), Iran (34).

Pot 4: Serbia (38), Nigeria (41), Australia (43), Japan (44), Morocco (48), Panama (49), South Korea (62), Saudi Arabia (63).

3. How each group will be chosen

One team from each pot will be drawn in one of eight groups (A to H). Russia will go into Group A. However, teams from the same confederation (except Uefa) cannot be drawn in the same group. And Europe can have at most two teams in any one group.

4. Potential Group of Death

(According to their rankings):

Germany, Spain, Costa Rica, Nigeria

(Based on the most evenly balanced sides):

Poland, Uruguay, Denmark, Nigeria

5. Potential Group of Dreams

(The lowest-ranked teams from each pot subject to the same criteria):

Russia, Croatia, Iran, Panama

6. The people who will present the draw

 Ex-England international Gary Lineker, who played in the 1986 and 1990 Finals, will conduct the draw along with Russian sports journalist Maria Komandnaya.

Assisting them are eight former football greats - France’s Laurent Blanc, England’s Gordon Banks, Brazil’s Cafu, Italy’s Fabio Cannavaro, Uruguay’s Diego Forlan, Argentina’s Diego Maradona, Spain’s Carles Puyol and Russia’s 91-year-old Nikita Simonyan, an ex-Soviet striker. 

 Catch the draw on Singtel TV Ch114 & StarHub Ch208 at 11.55pm on Friday, Dec 1.