World Cup Qualifying Playoffs 2023: Who will be the last team in England’s group?

World Cup Qualifying Playoffs 2023: Who will be the last team in England’s group?

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Sarina Wiegman during a press conferenceSarina Wiegman’s England meet one of the play-off winners at the 2023 World Cup in New Zealand and Australia

In just over five months, European champions England will kick off their 2023 World Cup season – but one of their opponents has yet to be determined.

All of that will be settled next week as 10 teams battle it out in the playoffs in New Zealand for the last three spots in this summer’s tournament.

The group stage draw for the Main Event has already been made, meaning the three qualifiers know exactly what prize is at stake. Here’s everything you need to know…

Which team could face England?

Three teams are fighting for the last place in England’s World Cup group. Senegal meets Haiti in the semifinals, the winner meets Chile, who received a bye in the final.

Chile is the highest-ranked of the three teams and is ranked 38th in the world.

With Christiane Endler, who won the Champions League with Lyon in May, they also have one of the world’s best goalkeepers.

Christiane Endler plays against Arsenal in the EmiratesChile’s Christiane Endler is one of three players nominated for the FIFA Best Goalkeeper award, alongside England’s Mary Earps and Chelsea’s Ann-Katrin Berger

Chile made their World Cup debut in 2019 in a tough group alongside eventual world champions, the United States, semi-finalist Sweden and Thailand. They clinched their first tournament victory against Thailand but lost their other two games and missed the knockout stages on goal difference.

Haiti ranks 55th in the world, and their women have never reached a major global tournament – although their men qualified in 1974.

Most of their side play in France, including 19-year-old midfielder Melchie Dumornay, who recently announced she will join Lyon from Stade Reims this summer.

Senegal is the lowest ranked team in the playoffs globally, ranked 84th. They have also never qualified for a global women’s tournament, but reached the quarter-finals of this year’s Africa Women’s Cup of Nations, losing to Zambia on penalties.

Graphic showing England's Group D matches at the World Cup

How do the playoffs work?

The 10 teams in the playoffs were divided into three groups, with the winner of each group earning a spot at the World Cup.

Groups A and B consist of three teams, with the two lowest-ranked teams fighting for the right to play a seeded nation. The winner of this second game qualifies.

Group C consists of four teams, so there are two semi-finals in which the winners then compete for a spot at the World Cup.

World Cup Playoff Tournament Groups Graphic.

Who else is participating – and what is the price?

In Group A, Portugal are the highest-ranked side of the 10 play-off teams – ranked 22nd in the world – and although they have never reached a World Cup, they have featured in the last two European Championships.

Cameroon qualified in 2015 and 2019, reaching the last 16 in both tournaments. In the latter competition they were beaten by England in a bad-tempered encounter, with the African side outraged by several VAR decisions.

Thailand have also qualified for the previous two World Cups but never made it past the group stage and were beaten 13-0 by the United States in the 2019 opening match.

Group A winners will be rewarded with a place in Group E at the World Cup, and will face the two World Cup finalists from four years ago – defending champions USA and 2019 runners-up Netherlands and Vietnam.

Spencer PriorFormer Premier League defender Spencer Prior became Papua New Guinea women’s manager in November 2022

In Group C, Papua New Guinea, who have never qualified for a World Cup, have former Manchester City defender Spencer Prior in the palm of their hands.

After retiring from football in 2007, he emigrated to Australia where he began training and was part of the Australia women’s squad at the 2011 World Cup.

Of the other teams in the group, Chinese Taipei competed in the first Women’s World Cup in 1991 but has not qualified since. Neither Paraguay nor Panama have ever reached the final.

Group C winners advance to World Cup Group F, meeting Brazil in their opening match before meeting Jamaica and then France.

Full schedule – all times GMT

Group A

Semi-finals – Cameroon – Thailand, 18 February, 06:00

Final – Portugal – Cameroon/Thailand, 22 February, 06:30

Group B

Semifinals – Senegal – Haiti, 18 February, 01:00

Final – Chile v Senegal/Haiti, 22 February, 01:00

Group C

Chinese Taipei-Paraguay, February 19, 1:00 a.m

Papua New Guinea-Panama, February 19, 06:00

Final – Chinese Taipei/Paraguay v Papua New Guinea/Panama, 23 February 01:00

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