Home nations learn 2014 World Cup qualifying opponents

England will face Montenegro, Ukraine, Poland, Moldova, and San Marino in Group H when they bid to qualify for the 2014 World Cup finals in Brazil.

Scotland and Wales were drawn together in Group A, and will play Croatia, Serbia, Belgium, and another former Yugoslav republic, Macedonia.

Northern Ireland are up against Portugal, Russia, Israel, Azerbaijan and Luxembourg in Group F.

Only group winners are guaranteed a place at the tournament.

With 13 places available in Brazil for European teams, the eight-best second-placed teams will play-off against each other to go through.

It is not an easy draw. You have to be really, really focused and play every game like a final - but that will be another manager's job

England manager Fabio Capello

The Republic of Ireland were drawn against Germany, Sweden, Austria, Faroe Islands and Kazakhstan in Group C, while France and world champions Spain are in a five-team group - the only European group without six teams - along with Belarus, Georgia and Finland.

"Three years is a long time and 2014 isn't now," said France coach Laurent Blanc. "Spain are currently the best team there is but we don't know if that will be the case in two or three years' time.

"You have to go up against the best if you want to achieve something at a World Cup."

In the qualifying process for the 2014 World Cup, 203 teams will play an eventual 824 matches across the globe.

WORLD CUP DID YOU KNOW?

  • The total of 203 teams vying for one of 31 World Cup spots in Brazil surpasses the 200 who participated four years ago
  • The only associations not to have signed up to compete for 2014 qualification are Bhutan, Brunei Darussalam, Guam and Mauritania
  • Fifa would not draw Azerbaijan and Armenia together, nor Russia and Georgia, because of political conflicts which they said could lead to fan violence during matches
  • Germany has been the most successful team in the last six World Cup qualifying campaigns, with only two losses in 74 matches

The draws for the Africa, Asia, Oceania and the North, Central America and Caribbean regions also took place in Rio de Janeiro on Saturday, although no draw was made for South America as its nine teams qualify through a one-group championship.

The finals will take place between 12 June and 13 July, and a decision on whether to introduce goal-line technology will be taken  at next March's meeting of the International FA Board, the game's lawmakers.

England manager Fabio Capello was present at the draw, although he is set to move on next summer after the conclusion of the European Championships.

Montenegro drew 0-0 with England at Wembley in October  in their qualifier for Euro 2012 in Poland and Ukraine.

"It is not an easy draw," said Capello. "You have to be really, really focused and play every game like a final - but that will be another manager's job.

World Cup draw is tough - Capello

"We know Montenegro very well and we have to play against them again. Poland are improving and will be really focused and will be tough opponents. With Ukraine I remember the game we lost against them in the last match during the qualification for South Africa. Moldova are not so strong, and San Marino the same."

Wales manager Gary Speed said: "It's obviously a tough draw. It's a really tough group, but it could have been worse. There are no weak teams in the group. It's one of those groups where everyone can beat anyone."

Scotland boss Craig Levein  admitted he had hoped to miss Speed's side in the draw, saying: "I would have rather avoided Wales because obviously it brings in that home international rivalry, which we probably could have done without.

"We have recent good experience of playing Wales, when we won against them over in Dublin recently, but also not so long ago we lost 3-0 to Wales, so it's a bit of a mixed bag."

Northern Ireland manager Nigel Worthington  said of Group F: "It looks a reasonably tough group, but it could have been worse. There is a fair bit of travelling but you have to deal with that."

Find the 2014 World Cup preliminary draw in full here (external site).