Fifa 2018 World Cup preliminary draw
The 2018 Fifa World Cup preliminary draw threw up some interesting challengesReuters

World champions Germany have been handed a relatively comfortable qualifying group, while there are one or two tricky ones in the European, African and Concacaf draws which would have caused a bit of trepidation for the countries concerned.

The 2018 Fifa World Cup preliminary draw had it all – music, dance, drama and speeches from the central figures in focus – the soon-to-be-former Fifa president Sepp Blatter and the Russian president Vladimir Putin.

"The World Cup will definitely enhance the reputation of football in one of the biggest countries in the world. It's wonderful for the neighbouring countries too," Putin said in a speech before the start of the draw.

"It's crucial for us to make the teams feel comfortable so they can focus on the games. We will make every attempt to guarantee security."

Blatter might be under pressure after the Fifa corruptions scandal, which in the end forced him to step down, eventually, but the Swiss was given a rousing ovation after his speech.

"There is no bigger event than the Fifa World Cup," he said. "It will be a wonderful moment for the people of Russia, the rest of the world and football too.

"Hundreds of thousands of people will come to Russia for the first time in their lives. They'll be met with warmth, friendship and real Russian hospitality."

Germany play Czech Republic, Northern Ireland, Norway, Azerbaijan and San Marino in Group C of the World Cup qualifiers in Europe, and the champions should feel confident enough to go through as the winners.

There are plenty of intriguing matches in Europe, which will have nine groups, to look forward to, while some interesting scenarios have cropped up in Africa and Concacaf as well.

Group A in Europe looks like the group of death, with Netherlands clubbed with France, Sweden, Bulgaria, Belarus and Luxembourg. The 2006 and 2010 world champions -- Italy and Spain -- have been drawn together as well in the same group.

The South American draw was pretty straightforward, considering all teams will be in one group, with the only thing decided in what order.

Below is the full list of the 2018 Fifa World Cup preliminary draw:

Africa: First round (two-legged ties, played from Oct. 5-13): Somalia vs Niger, South Sudan vs Mauritania, Gambia vs Namibia, Sao Tome e Principe vs Ethiopia, Chad vs Sierra Leone, Comoros vs Lesotho, Djibouti vs Swaziland, Eritrea vs Botswana, Seychelles vs Burundi, Liberia vs Guinea-Bissau, Central African Republic vs Madagascar, Mauritius vs Kenya, Tanzania vs Malawi.

Second round (two-legged ties, played Nov. 9-17): Somalia/Niger vs Cameroon, South Sudan/Mauritania vs Tunisia, Gambia/Namibia vs Guinea, Sao Tome e Principe/Ethiopia vs Congo, Chad/Sierra Leone vs Egypt, Comoros/Lesotho vs Ghana, Djibouti/Swaziland vs Nigeria, Eritrea/Botswana vs Mali, Seychelles/Burundi vs Congo DR, Liberia/Guinea-Bissau vs Ivory Coast, Central African Republic/Madagascar vs Senegal, Mauritius/Kenya vs Cape Verde, Tanzania/Malawi vs Algeria, Sudan vs Zambia, Libya vs Rwanda, Morocco vs Equatorial Guinea, Mozambique vs Gabon, Benin vs Burkina Faso, Togo vs Uganda, Angola vs South Africa.

Note: The winners in the first round, advance to the second round, where they will play a two-legged playoff, before the 20 second round winners go into five groups of four, with the winners of that group stage qualifying for the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

CONCACAF: Third round (two-legged ties, played from Aug 31-Sept 8): Curacao vs El Salvador, Canada vs Belize, Grenada vs Haiti, Jamaica vs Nicaragua, St Vincent and the Grenadines vs Aruba, Antigua and Barbuda vs Guatemala.

Fourth round (group stage): Group A: Mexico, Honduras, Curacao/El Salvador, Canada/Belize.

Group B: Costa Rica, Panama, Grenada/Haiti, Jamaica/Nicaragua.

Group C: United States, Trinidad and Tobago, St Vincent and the Grenadines/Aruba, Antigua and Barbuda/Guatemala.

Note: The winners of the third round make it to the fourth round, where the top two from each group qualify for a hexagonal. The top three from that hexagonal qualify for the World Cup finals, while the fourth-placed team goes into an intercontinental playoff.

Oceania: First round: American Samoa, Cook Islands, Samoa, Tonga.

Second round: Group A: Tahiti, New Caledonia, American Samoa/Cook Islands/Samoa/Tonga, Papua New Guinea.

Group B: New Zealand, Solomon Islands, Fiji, Vanuatu.

Note: The top three from each group qualify for round three, where the winners of the two groups play in a two-legged playoff to qualify for an intercontinental playoff.

Europe: Group A: Netherlands, France, Sweden, Bulgaria, Belarus, Luxembourg.

Group B: Portugal, Switzerland, Hungary, Faroe Islands, Latvia, Andorra.

Group C: Germany, Czech Republic, Northern Ireland, Norway, Azerbaijan, San Marino.

Group D: Wales, Austria, Serbia, Ireland, Moldova, Georgia.

Group E: Romania, Denmark, Poland, Montenegro, Armenia, Kazakhstan.

Group F: England, Slovakia, Scotland, Slovenia, Lithuania, Malta.

Group G: Spain, Italy, Albania, Israel, Macedonia, Liechtenstein.

Group H: Belgium, Bosnia, Greece, Estonia, Cyprus.

Group I: Croatia, Iceland, Ukraine, Turkey, Finland.

Note: The winners from each group qualify for the World Cup, with the best eight runners-up then playing in a playoff, from which four will go through.

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