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Top Of The League! But What Do Ireland Need To Do To Qualify For The World Cup?

Top Of The League! But What Do Ireland Need To Do To Qualify For The World Cup?
By David Kent

We're top of the league! Pints all around! But what do Ireland need to do to to qualify for the World Cup in Russia in 2018?

How does qualifying work?

The winners of the nine groups will automatically qualify for Russia. The eight best second placed teams will be draw into four two legged playoffs. The winners of those will join the group winners on the plane.

As it stands

Saturday night was a fantastic one for the Irish. James McClean's rocket temporarily put us top. Aleksandar Mitrovic's equalizer in Cardiff made sure that we stayed there until March.

What Do Ireland Need To Do To Qualify? How Many Points Do We Need?

To win the group:

Get over twenty points and they will be (more than likely) win the group. 21 was enough for Switzerland in 2010 to qualify, 22 the total of Russia and Italy in 2014. Now of course, there were the odd situations such as Greece, who got 25 points in 2014 but still only made the playoff. Portugal managed 21 the same year but were stuck in the same situation.

So let's say 13 points from the remaining six games will do the job.

Wins vs: Georgia, Moldova, Wales (h) and Austria

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Draws vs: Serbia

Defeats vs Wales (a)

Ireland have never gone through a qualifying group unbeaten. If they can win their next two games - home dates with Wales and Austria - they will be in a serious position to top the group.

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To make the playoff:

In 2010, the magic number was 18. Ireland hit that target to reach the playoff behind Italy on 24. We don't like talking about what happened in that playoff against France.

Four years later and Croatia snuck into the playoffs ahead of Denmark with 17 points.

So Ireland should be aiming to get between 17-20 points from the group. Ten more from the final six games should be enough for a playoff at least.

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Wins vs: Georgia, Moldova, Austria
Draws vs: Serbia
Defeat vs: Wales (a), Wales (h)

Containing Gareth Bale is a lot easier said than done. A win for the Welsh in March wouldn't be the end of the world but we would need to recover in June against Austria. We finish off with a visit to Cardiff. If we can avoid defeat in the rest of the games, we'll be ensured second.

But that's a long way away yet. For now, we'll just keep looking at the group table. Definitely not praying for a Gareth Bale injury. Not at all.

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SEE ALSO:There Is More Than A Hint Of Irony About Dundalk's Next Match

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