Hopes are high as Republic of Ireland gets dream group in 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifiers

SportBy Neil Fetherston
Aleksandr Kerzhakov draws Ireland in World Cup qualification Group D
Aleksandr Kerzhakov draws Ireland in World Cup qualification Group D

Hopes are high that the Republic of Ireland will qualify for the 2018 FIFA World Cup after being handed a ‘dream’ group.

Ireland will face Wales, Austria, Serbia, Moldova and Georgia in the qualifying group for the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

Wales were the side Martin O'Neill would have wanted from Pot One and the Gareth Bale-inspired side arrived alongside us in Group D

Austria will be deemed a welcome team from Pot Two.

Serbia beat O'Neill's side 2-1 in March 2014 at the Aviva and were drawn from Pot Three.

Ireland will face a familiar foe with Georgia in the group while the other so-called minnow is Moldova.

Reacting to the draw, Martin O'Neill said: "Going back to Georgia is not exactly what you would want and then Serbia came in front of us and I thought it might be exceptionally difficult but Austria and Wales, Wales having done well to promote themselves to the pool, you miss out on some of the big sides and I'm sure Wales feel exactly the same.

"I think it's a group where teams can take points off each other. There are a lot more easier groups, but a lot more difficult groups too.

"I've just gone past one of the Germans and he said they were delighted were not playing the Republic of Ireland again.

"Austria and Wales and Serbia will be happy enough to be in the group. I'm happy enough to be in the group too."

Northern Ireland will have to face world champions Germany in Group C along with the Czech Republic, Norway, Azerbaijan and San Marino.

England and Scotland will also meet each other after they were drawn in Group F with Slovakia, Slovenia, Lithuania and Malta.

Northern Ireland were among the third seeds, while Martin O'Neill's Republic of Ireland side were in the pot of fourth seeds.

Northern Ireland's last appearance in a World Cup was in 1982 and the Republic of Ireland's in 2002.

Here is the draw in full:
Group A: Netherlands, France, Sweden, Bulgaria, Belarus, Luxembourg

Group B: Portugal, Switzerland, Hungary, Faroe Islands, Latvia, Andorra

Group C: Germany, Czech Republic, NORTHERN IRELAND, Norway, Azerbaijan, San Marino

Group D: WALES, Austria, Serbia, REPUBLIC OF IRELAND, Moldova, Georgia

Group E: Romania, Denmark, Poland, Montenegro, Armenia, Kazakhstan

Group F: ENGLAND, Slovakia, SCOTLAND, Slovenia, Lithuania, Malta

Group G: Spain, Italy, Albania, Israel, Macedonia, Liechtenstein

Group H: Belgium, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Greece, Estonia, Cyprus

Group I: Croatia, Iceland, Ukraine, Turkey, Finland.

And here is the schedule:


Monday, 5 September: Serbia v Republic of Ireland

Thursday, 6 October: Republic of Ireland v Georgia

Sunday, 9 October: Moldova v Republic of Ireland

Saturday, 12 November: Austria v Republic of Ireland

Friday, 24 March: Republic of Ireland v Wales

Sunday, 11 June: Republic of Ireland v Austria

Saturday, 2 September: Georgia v Republic of Ireland

Tuesday, 5 September: Republic of Ireland v Serbia

Friday, 6 October: Republic of Ireland v Moldova

Monday, 9 October: Wales v Republic of Ireland