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WORLD CUP DRAW Stephen Kenny's reaction as Ireland draw Cristiano Ronaldo's Portugal in World Cup qualifying

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10 June 2014; Cristiano Ronaldo, Portugal. Friendly International, Republic of Ireland v Portugal, MetLife Stadium, New Jersey, USA. Picture credit: David Maher / SPORTSFILE

10 June 2014; Cristiano Ronaldo, Portugal. Friendly International, Republic of Ireland v Portugal, MetLife Stadium, New Jersey, USA. Picture credit: David Maher / SPORTSFILE

10 June 2014; Cristiano Ronaldo, Portugal. Friendly International, Republic of Ireland v Portugal, MetLife Stadium, New Jersey, USA. Picture credit: David Maher / SPORTSFILE

Cristiano Ronaldo will be standing in the way of Stephen Kenny and his Republic of Ireland squad after their World Cup qualifying fate was revealed.

Ireland have been drawn against Portugal, Serbia, Luxembourg and Azerbaijan in qualifying for the 2022 World Cup, with the outcome as good as Ireland could have expected given their position as third seeds.

Ireland will face battles with Serbia for a second successive World Cup qualifying campaign, with their 1-0 win at the Aviva Stadium back in September 2017 was a hammer blow to Martin O'Neill's hopes of guiding Ireland to the final in Russia.

Now they will get a chance to renew rivalries with Serbia, in a group that will also see them lock horns with the minnows of Luxembourg and Azerbaijan.

"It is an exciting group. Portugal are the European Champions and the Nations League champions and Serbia of course, have a great pedigree," Ireland boss Stephen Kenny told Sky Sports. "Luxembourg are a vastly improved team and Azerbaijan so it's an exciting group.

"The fact that it's a five-team group means that we don't have the congested three-game window in March, three competitive games. So it means we go back to the more traditional two games in March. It's an interesting group for us.

"It's a new campaign and I think we'll have a lot of players back for March and I think that's exciting. We've given ten players their international competitive debut in the last couple of months and I think combined with a lot of the experienced players we have to come back in, in March, it means our squad will be a lot stronger in March.

"We'll look forward to the games, they'll be great games against Portugal and Serbia and of course against Luxembourg and Azerbaijan also. So we've got to try and do our utmost to try and qualify."

Elsewhere, England face familiar qualifying foes Poland on the road to the Qatar World Cup in 2022.

The Poles, whose star striker Robert Lewandowski has arguably been the best player in the world in 2020, have faced the Three Lions in qualifying for the 1974, 1990, 1994, 2006 and 2014 World Cups, as well as taking on England in the finals in Mexico in 1986.

England and Poland also met in qualifying for the 1992 and 2000 European Championships.

Gareth Southgate’s men have also been drawn against Hungary, Albania, Andorra and San Marino in matches which will be played between March and November next year.

Scotland are up against Denmark, Austria, Israel, the Faroe Islands and Moldova in Group F as they seek a first World Cup qualification since 1998.

The Scots lost to Israel in a Nations League match last month, with only the top team in each group assured of a place in the World Cup finals in Qatar.

Each of the 10 group winners in qualifying will secure their place at the tournament while the 10 group runners-up will go through to the play-offs, along with the two best Nations League group winners who do not finish in the top two of their World Cup qualifying group.

The 12 play-off teams will be drawn into three separate play-off paths, each of which will comprise semi-finals and final, with the three winners heading to Qatar.

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