Uefa Nations League: Northern Ireland to learn Nations League fate

Northern Ireland's opening Nations League game will be their first competitive fixture since the World Cup play-off loss to Switzerland
Northern Ireland's opening Nations League game will be their first competitive fixture since the World Cup play-off loss to Switzerland

The draw for the inaugural Uefa Nations League takes place this morning, with Northern Ireland among the teams waiting to learn who they will face.

Michael O'Neill, who turned down the chance to manage Scotland this week, will attend the draw in Switzerland.

Northern Ireland are seeded in League B, which will feature four groups of three teams, and could be drawn against Wales and the Republic of Ireland.

The league also provides an alternative qualifying route to Euro 2020.

"It will be something different and something for the players to look forward to," said O'Neill.

"We need to make sure we do as well as possible. We will be playing against teams where good results will improve our ranking."

Northern Ireland have been placed in Pot 3 for the League B draw, which means that they cannot be pitted against the other Pot 3 sides; Denmark, Czech Republic and Turkey.

As well as Wales and the Republic of Ireland, O'Neill's side could be drawn against Russia, Austria, Slovakia, Sweden, Ukraine or Boznia-Herzegovina.

The teams in each group will play home and away in a 10-week period between September and November of this year with the team finishing top of each section earning promotion to League A while the side that finishes bottom will be relegated to League C for the next Nations League in 2020.

The schedule of four games for each team will be confirmed after the draw.

The top four-ranked League B teams that do not qualify for Euro 2020 through the traditional qualifier system will then enter play-offs in March 2020, with one finals place on offer.

"It is good that it's coming before the Euro qualifiers start. It gives us a chance to assess players in a competitive environment," added O'Neill.

"You now see big teams continually playing against big teams. It's good to have this tournament to fill that void."

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