For the World Cup 2018 qualification process, qualifying groups are split up into the Oceania Football Confederation (OFC), the South American Football Confederation (CONMEBOL), the Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF), the Confederation of African Football (CAF), the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) and the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA).
The Republic of Ireland are in the UEFA category of qualification, which contains nine groups of six teams.
What group are the Republic of Ireland in and who is in their group?
The Republic of Ireland are in Group D alongside Wales, Austria, Serbia, Moldova and Georgia.
What is the Republic of Ireland's fixture list?
Here is the fixture list in full, courtesy of the FAI's website.
Serbia v Republic of Ireland
(5th Sept 2016)
Republic of Ireland v Georgia
(6th Oct 2016)
Moldova v Republic of Ireland
(9th Oct 2016)
Austria v Republic of Ireland
(12th Nov 2016)
Republic of Ireland v Wales
(24th March 2017)
Republic of Ireland v Austria
(11th June 2017)
Georgia v Republic of Ireland
(2nd Sept 2017)
Republic of Ireland v Serbia
(5th Sept 2017)
Republic of Ireland v Moldova
(6th Oct 2017)
Wales v Republic of Ireland
(9th Oct 2017)
What do the Republic of Ireland have to do to qualify for World Cup 2018?
The Republic of Ireland must either top the group, which would qualify them automatically, or finish in second place and hope that they claim one of the eight best runner-up spots to put them into Round 2 qualifying.
The eight best runners-up enter into four play-offs consisting of both home and away games. The winner of each play-off will qualify for the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia.
How are the best runners-up spots decided?
Interestingly, only the results of teams against the first, third, fourth and fifth placed finishers in the group will be taken into account - results against last placed teams will be irrelevant. This rule was initially created for the seven six-team groups whenever there were were two five-team groups. But even after adding Kosovo and Gibraltar to the process, UEFA has maintained the rule.
Bearing that in mind, the eight best runners-up are determined by the following criteria:
1. Highest number of points.
2. Goal difference.
2. Highest number of goals scored.
When will the draw for the second round take place?
The draw will be held in October 2017, after the completion of the group stages.
When are the World Cup qualification play-offs?
The first legs of these play-off games will take place on 9th-11th November, with the second legs falling on 12th-14th November.
What are the dates for the 2018 FIFA World Cup?
The 2018 FIFA World Cup will take place from 14th June to 15th July 2018.