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Friday, 3 December, 1999, 09:48 GMT
World Cup seedings blow for England
England v Italy 1997 England and Italy could both be named with the second seeds

World Cup draw: Tuesday December 7, 1000 GMT

England look set to be named among the second seeds for next Tuesday's draw for the qualifying stages for the 2002 World Cup.

Kevin Keegan's side are likely to pay the price for their poor recent form by missing out on a cherished place among the top-ranked teams.

European football's governing body, Uefa, has announced that seedings will be based on each country's qualifying record for France 98 and Euro 2000 - and not on Fifa's official world rankings.

England v Scotland 1999 Scotland's ranking will reflect their Euro 2000 failure
And that raises the possibility of England being drawn in the same group as one of the European powerhouse teams, like Germany, France, the Netherlands and Spain.

But another continental giant, Italy, could also be named among the second strata of countries - along with Scotland, who just missed out on a place in the Euro 2000 finals to arch rivals England.

The Republic of Ireland, who like Scotland lost in the Euro 2000 play-offs, should be named among the third section of seeds, with Wales and Northern Ireland in either the fourth or fifth bands.

Euro 2000 pedigree

A Uefa spokesman said: "The seedings have not yet been finalised but they will be based largely on the qualifying competition for the Euro 2000 campaign, with Belgium and the Netherlands treated separately as they did not play any qualifiers as joint co-hosts.

"Some changes may still be made but most of the qualifying group winners are likely to be seeded first."

The European teams will be drawn into nine groups for World Cup qualifying - just as they were for Euro 2000 - with the winners qualifying automatically for the finals in Japan and South Korea.

The nine runners-up will be joined by one Asian team for five play-off matches to determine the remaining qualifying places.

The draw will be made in Tokyo on Tuesday, with a host of home-grown celebrities and international football legends on hand to add some glitter to proceedings.

Sumo wrestler Konishiki, tennis player Kimiko Date, Asia's young soccer player of the year Shinji Ono and South Korean striker Ahn Jung-Hwan will all be involved in the draw.

Former internationals Pele, Michel Platini and Hugo Sanchez are also likely to be involved as will Aime Jacquet, who coached France to victory in the 1998 finals.

A record 197 teams will take part in the qualifying competition, which will run from March 2000 to November 2001.

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See also:
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01 Dec 99 |  Football
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06 Jul 99 |  Football
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