Ireland’s World Cup hopes will rest on the play-off draw next Tuesday in Zurich as they look to book their ticket to Russia 2018.
Following the 1-0 win over Wales on Monday night in Cardiff, Martin O’Neill’s men will now have to face a draw to find out who stands in their way of a 16-year wait for another World Cup appearance.
With the conclusion on Tuesday of all the group stage qualifying matches, ten European sides have reached the World Cup finals in Russia. Belgium, England, France, Germany (holders), Iceland, Poland, Portugal, Serbia and Spain all topped their groups whilst Russia qualify as hosts.
Four places remain and Croatia, Denmark, Greece, Italy, Northern Ireland, Republic of Ireland, Sweden and Switzerland will now face a play-off to earn one of those spots.
Those eight teams were the best runners-up from nine groups. Slovakia, who had the worst record of the nine group runners-up teams, have been excluded.
Attention now turns to Zurich on the 17 October at 2pm CET when the draw for the four play-offs will be made.
The teams will play on a home-and-away basis, with the order of the legs decided by the draw. The first meetings take place between 9 and 11 November, with the second legs played over the following three days. The winner of each tie enters the draw for the World Cup on 1 December.
The projected rankings for October suggest Croatia, Denmark, Italy and Switzerland will be seeded and therefore a potential opponent for the Republic of Ireland. It also means the Republic will avoid a play-off clash with Northern Ireland.