By Rashid Shirinov
The Azerbaijani national football team will play in the fourth division of the UEFA Nations League that starts next year. This became known after the matches for qualification to the 2018 World Cup group stage in the European zone, TASS reported.
The Nations League will include 55 European teams, which will be divided into four leagues – A, B, C and D. Each division will consist of four groups. The draw will be held on January 24 in Lausanne, Switzerland.
The leagues are compiled based on the teams’ positions in the UEFA national team rankings. The Germany national team with 40747,10 points leads the ranking. The rating takes into account the results of the teams in the qualification and final tournaments of the 2014 FIFA World Cup, UEFA Euro 2016, and the qualification for the 2018 FIFA World Cup. The play-off matches of November for the World Cup will not be considered in the rating.
Thus, the League A will consist of teams that occupy the 1-12th places in the UEFA ranking. These are Germany, Portugal, Spain, Belgium, England, France, Switzerland, Italy, Poland, Iceland, Croatia and the Netherlands. The division will consist of four groups of three teams.
League B will include the teams from the 13th to 24th places of the ranking: Austria, Wales, Russia, Slovakia, Ukraine, Ireland, Sweden, Northern Ireland, Denmark, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Czech Republic and Turkey. This division will also be of four groups of three teams.
The third division will consist of teams from 25th to 39th positions. These are Romania, Scotland, Slovenia, Hungary, Serbia, Albania, Norway, Greece, Montenegro, Israel, Bulgaria, Finland, Cyprus, Estonia and Lithuania. There will be one group of three teams and three groups of four in the League C.
The last fourth division will include teams occupying the 40th-55th positions in the UEFA ranking: Azerbaijan, Macedonia, Georgia, Belarus, Armenia, Faroe Islands, Latvia, Luxembourg, Kazakhstan, Moldova, Liechtenstein, Malta, Kosovo, Andorra, San Marino and Gibraltar.
The first tournament of the UEFA Nations League will kick off in September next year, after the World Cup, and the winner will be known in June 2019. The competition will largely replace international friendly matches currently played on the FIFA International Match Calendar.
Each season of the UEFA Nations League will be played from September to November of an even-numbered year (pool stage), and June of the following odd-numbered year (final four competition of League A). Thus, the UEFA Nations League champion will be crowned every two years.
Rashid Shirinov is AzerNews’ staff journalist, follow him on Twitter: @RashidShirinov
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