Four of the most celebrated footballing names from central and eastern Europe will take part in the UEFA EURO 2012™ draw to determine the makeup of the nine qualifying competition groups.
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The long journey to the UEFA EURO 2012™ finals in Poland and Ukraine will start next Sunday, 7 February, when the qualifying draw takes place in the Polish capital Warsaw.
Four of the most celebrated names of central and eastern European football will participate in the draw to determine the makeup of the nine groups for the qualifying competition, which will begin in September and conclude in November 2011. Polish football greats Zbigniew Boniek and Andrzej Szarmach and two of Ukrainian football's favourite sons, Oleg Blokhin and Andriy Shevchenko, will take the stage at Warsaw's Palace of Culture and Sciences to assist with the draw proceedings.
This year marks 50 years since the Soviet Union won the first UEFA European Championship title after a competition featuring 16 countries and this anniversary will be the main theme of the draw ceremony. Popular Polish singers AudioFeels will also revive memories of more recent tournaments with a musical performance.
Leading us through the proceedings will be Piotr Sobczyński, a sports presenter and commentator with Polish public broadcaster TVP, and Masha Yefrosinina, the Ukrainian actress and television presenter who hosted the 2005 Eurovision Song Contest. It will fall on UEFA general secretary Gianni Infantino, meanwhile, to guide the four tournament ambassadors through the draw procedure. There are 51 teams contesting the 14 places available for the 2012 finals alongside co-hosts Poland and Ukraine and they have been split into six seeding pots ahead of the draw. There will be nine qualifying groups – six comprising six sides and three involving five.
Each group will contain one nation from the first five seeding pots, with groups A to F being the six sections also including a team from Pot 6. The seeding pots are formed on the basis of the UEFA national team coefficient ranking system, finalised after the completion of FIFA World Cup qualifying, with European champions Spain automatically top-seeded. The nine winners and the runner-up with the best record against the countries first, third, fourth and fifth in their group will qualify directly for the final tournament. The eight remaining runners-up will compete in play-off matches in November 2011.