Following the publication of the FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking, Malta was placed in Pot 6 in the UEFA preliminary draw for the FIFA World Cup 2022™ that is due to take place on 7 December at 18:00 CET as a virtual event in Zurich.
The other teams in Pot 6 are Moldova, Liechtenstein, Gibraltar and San Marino.
Belgium were confirmed as the top-seeded team in Pot 1. The Red Devils will be joined in Pot 1 by the other top-placed European teams in the ranking: France, England, Portugal, Spain, Italy, Croatia, Denmark, Germany and the Netherlands.
Based on the ranking, the remaining 45 UEFA member associations will be allocated as follows:
Pot 2: Switzerland, Wales, Poland, Sweden, Austria, Ukraine, Serbia, Turkey, Slovakia and Romania
Pot 3: Russia, Hungary, Republic of Ireland, Czech Republic, Norway, Northern Ireland, Iceland, Scotland, Greece and Finland
Pot 4: Bosnia and Herzegovina, Slovenia, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Albania, Bulgaria, Israel, Belarus, Georgia and Luxembourg
Pot 5: Armenia, Cyprus, Faroe Islands, Azerbaijan, Estonia, Kosovo, Kazakhstan, Lithuania, Latvia and Andorra
Pot 6: Malta, Moldova, Liechtenstein, Gibraltar and San Marino
The teams drawn will be allocated to a group in alphabetical order, from Group A to Group J (i.e. the first team drawn will be allocated to Group A, the second team to Group B and so forth). When a draw constraint applies or is anticipated to apply, the team drawn will be allocated to the first available group in alphabetical order as indicated by the draw constraint programme.
As Pot 6 will only contain five teams, these teams will be drawn into the sixth position in groups F to J.
Malta therefore cannot be drawn with Belgium, France, Spain and Italy.
All teams within a group will play each other twice in a home-and-away format between March and November 2021. The ten group winners will qualify directly for Qatar 2022, with the ten runners-up advancing to the play-offs.
The first three match days will be played in March, another three will be played in September, two in October and two in November.
Besides the ten runners-up from the group stage, the play-offs will also include the two best group winners from the UEFA Nations League 2020-2021 overall ranking that did not qualify directly for the FIFA World Cup 2022 and did not enter the play-offs as runners-up. The 12 teams will be split into three play-off paths, which will feature single-leg knockout matches in March 2022 to determine the last three European nations to book a place in Qatar.