Scotland have been handed a difficult task to make the European Championships in 2012 with the news that they will be amongst the third seeds in the qualifying draw. George Burley’s side were in the second pot of seeds for World Cup qualification yet finished third in their group, failing to make the playoffs.
The placing means that Scotland will face two higher rated nations in the qualifying process. Based on the current rankings, this could mean having to overcome the likes of Spain and Denmark in the group stage.
The table is based on the new UEFA ranking system, which takes into account performances in previous World Cup qualifiers and European Championship qualifying and finals. Scotland have not reached a major finals since the 1998 World Cup.
Scotland currently sit above Northern Ireland, Austria and Latvia in the rankings and a series of surprise results could yet see them slip into the fourth seeding group. Though unlikely, wins for Northern Ireland in Czech Republic and Latvia in Greece could force Scotland into the fourth pot.
Should the groupings remain as they are, George Burley would at least avoid having to face Norway again. The Scandinavian nation, who humiliated Scotland 4-0 in Oslo in August, are in the same group and would face different opposition in the qualifiers.
Six groups of six teams and three of five will contest qualification. Only the first placed teams and the best runner-up will qualify directly for the championships. The eight other second placed teams will contest a two-legged playoff for the remaining spots.
The Euro 2012 campaign does not begin until next year, with the draw being held in Warsaw on February 7. The tournament is being co-hosted by Poland and Ukraine.
Scotland have no competitive games between now and the draw and will presumably aim to schedule friendlies in 2010 that will prepare Burley’s sides for the teams they are paired with.