Gibraltar to Join Greece’s World Cup Qualifying Group
It looks like Gibraltar will join Greece in Group H of World Cup Qualifying. With the addition of Gibraltar, Greece will begin their qualifying campaign in September and their friendly with Russia will be canceled.
In May, Gibraltar and Kosovo became members of FIFA. As new members of FIFA, the two associations have completed the necessary actions to partake in 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifying. The addition of the two teams slightly complicates matters since the groups for qualifying were already decided last July. UEFA has implemented a task force to smoothly integrate Gibraltar and Kosovo into qualifying. Europe’s World Cup Qualifying currently has a total of 9 groups, 7 groups of 6 teams (Groups A-G) and 2 groups of 5 teams (Groups H and I). It is expected that Gibraltar and Kosovo will each be placed in a current group of 5 teams, Group H and Group I, resulting in 9 qualifying groups of 6 teams.
Greece has been drawn in a group with a total of five teams (Group H), along with Belgium, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Estonia, and Cyprus. UEFA will most likely place Gibraltar and Kosovo in Groups H and I rather than performing a draw for their placement in the groups. In this scenario, Gibraltar will join Greece’s group while Kosovo will enter Group I. Due to the fact that both Greece and Cyprus do not recognize Kosovo as an independent state, it seems impossible that Kosovo will be placed in Group H. Although UEFA’s final decision on the matter is expected to be announced in June, this is the most likely scenario.
With the addition of Gibraltar to Greece’s group, the National team will begin qualifying in September, rather than October (Greece had a bye in Matchday 1). Additionally, Greece’s friendly with Russia, which is scheduled for September 6, will be canceled.
*Gibraltar has been a member of UEFA since 2013 and competed for the first time in an international competition during UEFA Euro 2016 Qualifying.*
*Greece fell three places in the FIFA World Rankings for the month of June. Greece was previously 37th and now sits in 40th in the rankings**