RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - JULY 29: The venue for the Preliminary Draw of the 2014 FIFA World Cup on July 29, 2011 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)

2014 FIFA World Cup Preliminary Draw Marks The Start Of Qualifying

The start of the road to the 2014 World Cup in Brazil is on Saturday with the preliminary draw in Rio de Janeiro

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2014 FIFA World Cup Preliminary Draw: Europe (UEFA) Draw Set

European (UEFA) qualifying involves eight groups of six and one group of five teams each playing a round robin. The matches will be played from September 7, 2012 through October 15, 2013 and the nine group winners will qualify for the 2014 World Cup. The eight best second-place teams will advance to play in four two-legged playoffs against each other with the winners of those playoffs also qualifying for the World Cup.

The preliminary draw will determine the nine groups for the qualifying stage. The teams are placed into six pots of nine based on the FIFA rankings. The top nine times will be in Pot 1, the next nine teams in Pot 2, etc., to ensure that the top teams are not in the same group. The draw for the two-legged playoffs will be held at a later date.

Group A: Croatia, Serbia, Belgium, Scotland, Macedonia,Wales

Group B: Italy, Denmark, Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Armenia ,Malta

Group C: Germany, Sweden, Republic of Ireland, Austria, Faroe Islands, Kazakhstan

Group D: Netherlands, Turkey, Hungary, Romania, Estonia, Andorra

Group E: Norway, Slovenia, Switzerland, Albania, Cyprus, Iceland

Group F: Portugal, Russia, Israel, Northern Ireland, Azerbaijan, Luxembourg

Group G: Greece, Slovakia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Lithuania, Latvia, Liechtenstein

Group H: England, Montenegro, Ukraine, Poland, Moldova, San Marino

Group I: Spain, France, Belarus, Georgia, Finland

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2014 FIFA World Cup Preliminary Draw: Oceania (OFC) Drawn For Qualifying

There are 11 teams in Oceania and all are taking place in World Cup qualifying. The four bottom teams will compete in a round robin, with the group winner advancing to the second round of qualifying. They will join the top seven teams in qualifying, who are split into two pots. Two teams from each pot will be drawn into one of the two second round groups with the top two teams in the groups advancing to the final round. The winner of that final four-team group will then advance to the intercontinental playoff against the fourth place team in CONCACAF for a spot in the World Cup.

The preliminary draw determined the groups for the second round of qualifying. The draw for the schedule of the final round will be held at a later date.

Group A

Vanuatu

New Caledonia

Tahiti

First Round Group Winner

Group B

New Zealand

Figi

Papua New Guinea

Soloman Islands

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2014 FIFA World Cup Preliminary Draw: Draw Set For North America (CONCACAF) Qualification

The North American federation, CONCACAF, takes the cake for most roundabout and convoluted World Cup qualification system. Though the end result - the hexagonal - is fantastic, the way that we get there is less great. The first round has already taken place, with the 10 lowest ranked teams in CONCACAF having played a home and away playoff in the first round. That round eliminated Montserrat, Anguilla, British Virgin Islands, Aruba, and Turks and Caicos Islands.

Second round qualifying includes the winners of those ties - Belize, Dominican Republic, U.S. Virgin Islands, Saint Lucia and Bahamas - and the 7th-25th ranked teams in CONCACAF, who receive a bye to the second round. The top six teams in the confederation - The United States, Mexico, Honduras, Jamaica, Costa Rica and Cuba - receive a bye to the third round, which is the round before the hexagonal. The Second Round consists of six groups and the six group winners join the top six teams in CONCACAF in the second round.

The top three teams in the hexagonal go straight to the World Cup, while the team that finishes in fourth goes to a playoff with a team from Oceania.

Second Round

Group A

El Salvador

Suriname

Cayman Islands

Dominican Republic

Group B

Trinidad and Tobago

Guyana

Barbados

Bermuda

Group C

Panama

Dominica

Nicaragua

Bahamas

Group D

Canada

St. Kitts and Nevis

Puerto Rico

St. Lucia

Group E

Grenada

Guatemala

St. Vincent and Grenadines

Belize

Group F

Haiti

Antigua and Barbuda

Curacao

U.S. Virgin Islands

Third Round

Group A

United States

Jamaica

Winner - Group E, Second Round

Winner - Group F, Second Round

Group B

Mexico

Costa Rica

Winner - Group A, Second Round

Winner - Group B, Second Round

Group C

Honduras

Cuba

Winner - Group D, Second Round

Winner - Group C, Second Round

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2014 FIFA World Cup Preliminary Draw: Draw Sets Asia (AFC) For Qualifying

Asia has a multi-round qualification process, making understanding it a little bit more complicated than some of the more straight forward qualification formats like those used by Europe and South America. The teams are in the third round of qualifying now and the 20 teams remaining are split into five groups of four. The top two in each group will advance to the fourth round, where teams will be in two groups of five with the top two teams qualifying for the World Cup. The two third place teams will play a two-legged tie with the winner getting the chance to play the fifth place team from South America in the intercontinental playoff for a spot in the World Cup.

The draw for the fourth round of qualifying will be held at a later date, but the preliminary draw determined the groups for the third round of qualifying. They are as follows:

Group A

China

Jordan

Iraq

Singapore

Group B

South Korea

Kuwait

Lebanon

United Arab Emirates

Group C

Japan

Uzbekistan

North Korea

Syria

Group D

Australia

Saudi Arabia

Oman

Thailand

Group E

Iran

Qatar

Bahrain

Indonesia

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2014 FIFA World Cup Preliminary Draw: Africa (CAF) Draw Set

Africa, whose confederation is known as CAF, is one of only two continents who does not have a playoff spot for the 2014 FIFA World Cup, along with UEFA (Europe). Five teams drop straight in to the World Cup. The first round consists of 12 home and away ties. Those 12 winners will be dropped into pots for the group stage. 10 winners will be in Pot 4 and two winners will be in Pot 3. After the first round drawing, teams were drawn from four pots into 10 round robin groups. The winner of each group enters into a home and away playoff. The winner of each of those playoffs qualifies for the World Cup.

Round 1

Seychelles vs. Kenya

Guinea-Bassau vs. Togo

Djibouti vs. Namibia

Mauritius vs. Liberia

Comoros vs. Mozambique

Equatorial Guinea vs. Madagascar

Somalia vs. Ethiopia

Lesotho vs. Burundi

Eritrea vs. Rwanda

Swaziland vs. Congo-DR

Sao Tome a Principe vs. Congo

Chad vs. Tanzania

Round 2

Group A

South Africa

Botswana

Central African Republic

Somalia vs. Ethiopia Winner

Group B

Tunisia

Cape Verde

Sierra Leone

Equatorial Guinea vs. Madagascar Winner

Group C

Cote D'Ivoire

Morocco

Gambia

Chad vs. Tanzania Winner

Group D

Ghana

Zambia

Sudan

Lesotho vs. Burundi Winner

Group E

Burkina Faso

Gabon

Niger

Sao Tome a Principe vs. Congo Winner

Group F

Nigeria

Malawi

Seychelles vs. Kenya Winner

Djibouti vs. Namibia Winner

Group G

Egypt

Guinea

Zimbabwe

Comoros vs. Mozambique Winner

Group H

Algeria

Mali

Benin

Eritrea vs. Rwanda Winner

Group I

Cameroon

Libya

Guinea-Bassau vs. Togo Winner

Swaziland vs. Congo-DR Winner

Group J

Senegal

Uganda

Angola

Mauritius vs. Liberia Winner

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2014 FIFA World Cup Preliminary Draw: Intercontinental Playoffs

The final round of World Cup qualifying anywhere in the world is the intercontinental playoffs, when one team from four different confederations play in two two-legged playoffs for the final two spots in the world's biggest sporting event. For the 2010 World Cup, the two intercontinental playoffs saw New Zealand defeat Bahrain, 1-0 on aggregate, and Uruguay take down Costa Rica, 2-1 on aggregate. It proved to be an enormously important round as Uruguay punched their ticket to South Africa, where they went all the way to the tournament semifinals.

The final four teams in search of qualification for the 2014 World Cup will once again come from South America, Asia, CONCACAF and Oceania. The preliminary draw determined that the team that finishes in fifth place in South American qualifying will play the fifth place team from Asia in one intercontinental playoff for a final World Cup spot, while the fourth place team in CONCACAF will play the winner of Oceania.

That's a favorable draw for CONCACAF, whose fourth place team will almost certainly play New Zealand. Regardless of who finishes in fourth, the CONCACAF team will almost certainly be favored to win their playoff. It's even more favorable for South America though, who get to play the fifth place team in Asia. The last two times that has been Bahrain and both times Bahrain lost, as did Iran, who finished in fifth place in qualification for the 2002 World Cup.

Intercontinental Playoffs

South America fifth place vs. Asia fifth place

CONCACAF fourth place vs. Oceania winner

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2014 FIFA World Cup Preliminary Draw Marks The Start Of Qualifying

On Saturday afternoon in Rio de Janeiro, the run to the 2014 World Cup in Brazil will begin in earnest with the tournament's preliminary draw. Each confederation will have their qualifying groups and schedules drawn as teams learn their path to the World Cup. It will also mark the first World Cup event in Brazil as they prepare to hold the world's largest sporting event in three years.

A few World Cup qualifiers have already been played, but none of real importance. They've been played by the world's minnows that won't be around in any qualifying stage that anyone has heard of or bothers to watch. That makes tomorrow the first real important step in World Cup qualifying.

Each confederation gets to determine their own methods of qualifying so exactly how and why the draws tomorrow will be conducted will change depending on the confederation it is being drawn for. It may also not be the final draw as part of World Cup qualifying as some confederations have a further round to be drawn at a later date.

Asia- 43 teams, 4.5 spots

There are 20 teams remaining in Asian qualifying as they have reached the third round of qualifying. Those 20 teams will be split into five, four-team groups with the top two in each group moving onto the fourth round of qualifying where they will be split into two groups of five. The top two teams in each group will qualify for the World Cup with the two third-place teams playing a two-legged playoff. The winner of that playoff will then play in an inter-confederation playoff for a spot in the World Cup.

The preliminary draw will determine the groups for the third round of qualifying. The 15 teams that have advanced from the previous rounds will join the five top teams that enter qualifying in the third round. Those five teams will make up Pot 1 with the other teams being placed in pots based on the FIFA rankings. The draw for the fourth round will be held at a later date.

Africa- 52 teams, 5 spots

African qualifying has reached the second round where there are 40 teams remaining. 28 teams are entering qualifying competition at this stage, while 12 others will join them from the previous round. They will be split into 10 groups of four teams for the second round to be played from June 1, 2012 through September 10, 2013 with the top team from each group advancing to the third round. The third round will match the 10 teams in five two-legged ties with the winner of each tie advancing to the World Cup.

The preliminary stage will determine the groups for the second round. The 40 teams will be put into four pots of 10 teams each and drawn into their 10, four-team groups. The pots will be determined by the FIFA rankings. The draw that splits the 10 teams into their five two-legged ties will be held at a later date.

CONCACAF- 35 teams, 3.5 spots

The confederation will return to the same final round qualifying format that they have used for the last four World Cups. The final round will consist of six teams in one group playing each team playing every other in the group once at home and one away with the top three teams in the final stage qualifying for the World Cup and the fourth place team advancing to an inter-confederation two-legged playoff. Before that round though, there will be a semifinal round of three, four-team groups to be played on June 8, 2012 through October 16, 2012. The top two teams in each group will advance to the final round.

In the preliminary draw will determine the groups for the semifinal round. The United States, Mexico and Honduras are in Pot 1 and will be put in separate groups with one of the three teams from Pot B, Jamaica, Costa Rica and Cuba, joining them in their group. There is a stage prior to the semifinals of six groups of four and the two group winners will also be assigned to each semifinal group at the draw as well. The draw for the final stage schedule will be done at a later date.

Europe- 52 teams, 13 spots

European qualifying remains the same with eight groups of six and one group of five teams each playing a round robin. The matches will be played from September 7, 2012 through October 15, 2013 and the nine group winners will qualify for the 2014 World Cup. The eight best second-place teams will advance to play in four two-legged playoffs against each other with the winners of those playoffs also qualifying for the World Cup.

The preliminary draw will determine the nine groups for the qualifying stage. The teams are placed into six pots of nine based on the FIFA rankings. The top nine times will be in Pot 1, the next nine teams in Pot 2, etc., to ensure that the top teams are not in the same group. The draw for the two-legged playoffs will be held at a later date.

Oceania- 11 teams, 0.5 spots

There are eight teams remaining in Oceania qualifying. They will be split into two groups of four teams with the top two teams from each group advancing to the next round. Those four teams will play a round robin with the team finishing first in the group advancing to an inter-confederation playoff for a World Cup spot.

The preliminary draw will determine the groups for the two-group round. The teams are split into two pots with two teams from each pot in each group. The draw for the final round schedule will be held at a later date.

South America- 9 teams, 4.5 spots

Brazil will not take part in qualifying because they have a spot in the World Cup as the hosts. The other nine teams will play in a round robin from October 7, 2011 through October 15, 2013 with the top four teams qualifying for the World Cup and the fifth place team going on to an inter-confederation two-legged playoff for a World Cup spot. The schedule for qualifying has already been made and nothing will be drawn for South America at the preliminary draw.

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