S. Korea in Pot 3 for FIFA World Cup draw after staying at No. 29 in rankings

SEOUL-- South Korea will be placed in Pot 3 of the draw for this year's FIFA World Cup based on the latest world rankings released Thursday, meaning that they will end up with a pair of top-20 countries in the group stage in November.

South Korea stayed at No. 29 in the FIFA rankings. As of Thursday, 28 teams have qualified for the Nov. 21-Dec. 18 tournament in Qatar, with the host country automatically in the competition. The draw is scheduled for 7 p.m. Friday in Doha, or 1 a.m. Saturday in Seoul time. The remaining three spots will be filled with winners of the European playoffs and the intercontinental playoffs in June.

The already-qualified teams will be divided into four "pots" with eight teams each, based on their FIFA world ranking positions. In all, the 32 teams will be paired into eight groups of four, and the groups will feature a team from each of the four pots.

No group will have more than one team from the same region, except for Europe. The cap on European teams per group is two, since there will be 13 countries from that continent in the tournament.

Checking in at No. 29, South Korea ended up in Pot 3, which included 16th- to 23rd best-ranked qualifiers.

The other seven countries in Pot 3 are: Senegal (No. 20), Iran (No. 21), Japan (No. 23), Morocco (No. 24), Serbia (No. 25), Poland (No. 26) and Tunisia (No. 35).

As the host country, Qatar will automatically be in Pot 1 and Group A, and the seven highest-ranked teams among qualified nations will round out Pot 1.

Those seven are: Brazil (No. 1), Belgium (No. 2), France (No. 3), Argentina (No. 4), England (No. 5), Spain (No. 7) and Portugal (No. 8).

Pot 2 will have countries ranked eighth to 15th among qualified teams. They are: Mexico (No. 9), the Netherlands (No. 10), Denmark (No. 11), Germany (No. 12), Uruguay (No. 13), Switzerland (No. 14), the United States (No. 15) and Croatia (No. 16).

Pot 4 will include teams ranked 24th to 28th among qualified countries, plus the two winners of the intercontinental playoffs and the remaining European playoff winner. Cameroon (No. 37), Canada (No. 38), Ecuador (No. 46), Saudi Arabia (No. 49) and Ghana (No. 60) have booked their spots in Pot 4.

There is no such thing as a "best case scenario" for South Korea when it comes to Pot 1. Qatar are the lowest-ranked team in that pot at No. 51, but South Korea can't be paired with them since both are from Asia.

From Pot 2, the Netherlands and Germany are the two traditional powers that could topple anyone in Pot 1.

Teams in Pot 4 are still better than almost every team South Korea faced during the final Asian qualifying round.

South Korea will play in their 10th consecutive World Cup and 11th overall this year. They finished second in Group A of the final Asian qualifying phase, behind Iran.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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