The draw for the 2018 World Cup qualifiers took place in June 2015 in St. Petersburg.
The Republic of Ireland were drawn into a relatively favourable Group D with Wales, Austria, Serbia, Moldova and Georgia. Martin O'Neill's side were the team drawn from Pot 4.
Just over two years later, we are the only team from Pot 4 still in with a chance of qualifying for Russia 2018. Turkey, Slovenia, Israel, Norway, Bulgaria, Faroe Islands, Montenegro and Estonia fell by the wayside.
YEEESSSS!!! What a performance from Martin O'Neill's team! #COYBIG pic.twitter.com/VDqg6ZkymA
— FAIreland ⚽️🇮🇪 (@FAIreland) October 9, 2017
With the draw taking place for the 2018 World Cup almost three years from the tournament, plenty of teams were drawn in Pots that may not have shown a true reflection of their capabilities.
Of the nine groups in UEFA qualifying, only four teams from Pot 1 were group winners. That could become five if Portugal defeat Switzerland on Tuesday night in Lisbon. Either way, Portugal are guaranteed at least play-off spot.
Wales, Romania and the Netherlands were also top-seeds in their groups. All three failed to make the play-offs.
Pot 2 was a fairer reflection of their seedings. Iceland were the only group winners but France could join them tonight, if they beat Belarus at home. Italy and Denmark are into the play-offs too.
If France don't win their group, Sweden will be the team to overtake them. That would mean the Pot 3 would have three group winners, compared to Pot 2's one.
Poland and Serbia are on the way to Russia, while Northern Ireland will be in the play-offs potentially with the Swedes.
What about Pot 4? Of the nine teams, eight failed to qualify automatically or reach the play-offs. Only the Republic of Ireland remain.
Group seedings for qualifiers can be beneficial, but they are not crucial. A good team and a favourable draw can send any side to a tournament.
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