James McClean's 57th-minute winner against Wales ensures that Ireland are through to the play-off stages of the World Cup, but what does that mean for us now?

After the weeks of working out permutations and deducting results against the weakest teams for the purposes of trying to see who will be the lowest ranked runner up, you’ll be pleased to learn it gets slightly more straight-forward now.


Let’s get the simple things out of the way first; the draw will be held on October 17 with the play-offs taking place over two nights in November, between 9-11 and 12-14.

The draw will involve eight teams with the four highest rated teams in the FIFA World Rankings all being seeded, which is not great news for the Republic of Ireland.

Martin O’Neill’s side currently sit 34th in the FIFA world rankings (with the potential to move up to 26th after two wins in four days) and it is likely only Greece from Group H will rank lower in the draw.

While the rankings will be updated after the final rounds of qualifiers, we’re going to be on the unseeded side of the draw, but who can we face? We’re still going to be depending on results from Tuesday evening but the certainties are currently Italy from Group G and Croatia from I.

Group A will be decided tomorrow and with France expected to win against Belarus to finish top, Sweden will go into the play-offs but and they’ll be unseeded as things stand.

Portugal beat Switzerland 2-0 to win Group B, the defeat sees the Swiss drop down the rankings slightly but they're still the highest ranked side in the play-offs and will be seeded.

Northern Ireland’s final group game defeat against Norway means they will not be seeded and that rules out the potential of a fiery clash between Martin O’Neill’s and Michael O’Neill’s teams.

So, as things stand, it looks like the seeded teams will likely be Denmark, Portugal/Switzerland, Italy and Croatia while on the unseeded side it will likely be the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland, Greece and Sweden.

Up to date FIFA rankings in brackets

Seeded teams:
Switzerland (11)
Italy (16)
Croatia (17)
Denmark (18)

Unseeded teams:
Northern Ireland (23)
Sweden (26)
Republic of Ireland (27)
Greece (49)