Category: Archive

Full steam ahead

February 17, 2011

By Staff Reporter

Also drawn along with Ireland in Group D as they attempt to add to their one appearance in the European Championship finals in 1988 were John Toshack’s Welsh dragons, Slovakia, Cyprus and San Marino.
Northern Ireland, meanwhile, face Spain, Denmark, Sweden, Iceland, Latvia and Liechtenstein in Group F of the 50-nation qualifying competition to decide the 16 participants in the finals to be co-hosted by the Swiss and Austria.
Staunton, recently named as Brian Kerr’s successor at the helm of the national side with Robson as his mentor, was quick to recall his 100th international cap won against the Germans in the 2002 World Cup finals when the draw was made in the Swiss town of Montreux.
“It brings back some memories all right, but that is in the past now,” he said of the 1-1 tie with the Germans, on the FAI website. “The only thing that matters now is how we are going to deal with the teams we have been drawn against in Euro 2008.”
“Obviously it is a very difficult group, we will be taking on some very strong teams,” Staunton added. “However, you can be sure the top teams will not be overjoyed at having to face Ireland as the fourth seeds and there are a couple of other groups there that look a lot harder.”
Staunton was left mulling on whether or not to play the Germans immediately after the World Cup finals, which they’ll host and said:
“We will sit down next week and plan our strategy for the fixtures meeting. There can be advantages in playing a team immediately after they have competed in the World Cup finals, some teams can hit a dip in form.
“But it is not always that simple. If a team comes out of a World Cup finals tournament on a high that can make it much harder for their opponents.”
After the draw, Staunton received a warm handshake from his German opposite, Jurgen Klinsmann, who said he had good memories of meeting the Irish manager when he (Klinsmann) was playing in England with Tottenham.
Said Klinsmann: “I wish him good luck as a young manager but for me the focus has to be firmly on the World Cup finals next summer in Germany. All out attention must be directed in that direction for the moment.”
Toshack said it was a difficult draw for Wales but his side would be starting their campaign believing that they can qualify from the group.
“I wish Steve Staunton all the best in his first campaign as manager but obviously we will be hoping to win our two matches against Ireland. The two sets of players will know each other well from playing alongside each other in the Premiership,” he noted.

The rest of the Euro 08 qualifying draw is:
Group A– Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belgium, Finland, Kazakhstan, Poland, Portugal, Serbia-Montenegro.
Group C– Bosnia-Herzegovina, Greece, Hungary, Malta, Moldova, Norway, Turkey; Group B– Faeroe Islands, France, Georgia, Italy, Lithuania, Scotland, Ukraine.
Group E– Andorra, Croatia, England, Estonia, Israel, Macedonia, Russia and Group G — Albania, Belarus, Bulgaria, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Romania and Slovenia.
The top two teams in each group advance to the finals along with co-hosts Austria and Switzerland.
The qualifying tournament is scheduled to start in September.

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