Northern Ireland will find out later today who they will face in the 2022/23 edition of UEFA’s Nations League.
After picking up only two points and finishing bottom of Group B1 in 2020/21, the national team were relegated to League C for 2022/23.
In the draw being staged at UEFA HQ at Nyon, Switzerland (5pm UK time and can be seen live on uefa.com), Northern Ireland is in Pot 1 with Turkey, Slovakia and Bulgaria. They cannot meet any of these three nations in the competition.
But they will meet one nation from each of the other three pots...
Pot 2 - Greece, Belarus, Luxembourg, North Macedonia.
Pot 3 - Lithuania, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Kosovo
Pot 4 - Gibraltar, Faroe Islands, Kazakhstan or Moldova and Cyprus or Estonia.
Pot 4 comprises each of the promoted sides from last edition’s Group D, although two of those will not be decided until March.
There’s plenty of tricky, although fairly unattractive opponents lying in wait, although some great travel opportunities for the GAWA, covid permitting of course.
Potential opponents whom Northern Ireland have never met previously are North Macedonia, who provided a decent account of themselves at the recent Euros, Kosovo, Gibraltar and Kazakhstan.
The least testing draw possible (if there is such a thing) would see the Group made up by Belarus, Lithuania and Gibraltar, while the most difficult would likely see Northern Ireland join Greece, Georgia and Cyprus.
All group games will be played in 2022; June and September. Four of the six match-days will fall in June (between the 2nd and 14th of the month) due to the winter scheduling of next year’s FIFA World Cup in Qatar. I expect that’s the summer holidays sorted for many...!!!
Each of the four Group winners in League C will be promoted to League B for the 2024-25 competition.