Soccer-Reaction to European Championship draw


NICE, France, Feb 23 (Reuters) - Reaction following Sunday's draw for the qualifying groups for the 2016 European Championship in France:

Group A

Netherlands, Czech Republic, Turkey, Latvia, Iceland, Kazakhstan

Netherlands coach Louis van Gaal:

"History has taught us that most of the time we have beaten these opponents.

"The Oranje should be able to qualify for the final tournament automatically."

Czech Republic coach Pavel Vrba:

"Some other groups may look relatively easier, but when I took charge of the national team I said that there is no aim other than to qualify."

Turkey coach Fatih Terim:

"We have been drawn in one of the difficult groups. All the countries we have drawn have a cold climate."

Latvia coach Marians Pahars:

"Netherlands are the favourites in our group; they can win any competition they play in.

"We will do our best to make our fans happy by making it to the finals."

Iceland coach Heimir Hallgrímsson:

"I cannot say anybody is celebrating. These are very good football nations and we will have difficultly travelling to Kazakhstan and Turkey."

Group B

Bosnia-Hercegovina, Belgium, Israel, Wales, Cyprus, Andorra

Bosnia and Herzegovina coach Safet Susic:

"The draw has not been favourable.

"Our opponents are very strong, especially Belgium and Israel, but not for one moment should we underestimate Wales or Cyprus."

Belgium coach Marc Wilmots:

"The draw could have been much worse for us.

"I am not going to say it is a beautiful draw, because every match is difficult.

"But I will return home [to Belgium] feeling satisfied."

Israel coach Eli Gutman:

"We will be one of the main contenders in this group. I was very happy until Belgium came on the scene. It will be a very tight and equal contest, so we will have to be on top form."

Wales manager Chris Coleman:

"I'm happy, positive. They're all tough teams looking at the groups.

"It won't be easy but everyone is confident. We've managed to get a point in Belgium [in FIFA World Cup qualifying] and were unlucky at home."

Group C

Spain, Ukraine, Slovakia, Belarus, FYR Macedonia, Luxembourg

Spain coach Vicente del Bosque:

"It's not as easy a group as it might appear to some. We are facing emerging teams who are young and strong.

"The cold conditions could play a role in the group because many of the trips will be to teams from the east."

Ukraine coach Mykhailo Fomenko:

"Of course, Spain are clear favourites in Group C; they're not only world and European champions but also world football leaders.

"We should be fully motivated for every opponents, as we were during World Cup qualification."

Slovakia coach Jan Kozak:

"I wanted to play against different opponents, not Spain and Ukraine.

"When compared to previous qualifying groups, this is for sure made up of the toughest teams. It will be harder to be successful."

Belarus coach Georgi Kondratiev:

"It could have been better, it could have been worse.

"I believe in our success. The most important thing is that the players also believe. Then we will get it right."

Group D

Germany, Republic of Ireland, Poland, Scotland, Georgia, Gibraltar.

Germany coach Joachim Loew:

"The games in Ireland and Scotland are going to be especially tough in terms of atmosphere.

"With Poland, we know a few of their players very well from the Bundesliga and I will let myself by surprised by Gibraltar."

Ireland manager Martin O'Neill:

"It's a difficult group but exciting nevertheless. The matches against Scotland will be great occasions.

"Let's go positively into the group, and let's go for it.

"It looks like a group, Germany apart, where teams might take points off each other."

Scotland manager Gordon Strachan:

"If we play at the level we can play at we can definitely qualify.

"If we keep all our players fit we'll have a chance and the Republic, Poland and Georgia will be thinking the same.

"It's a hard group and I think any of the teams in our group will be saying this is going to be hard."

Gibraltar coach Allen Bula:

"It's definitely been a long road [to get here].

"I did get one of my wishes: I got Germany. For it actually to happen is fantastic for Gibraltar."

Group E

England, Switzerland, Slovenia, Estonia, Lithuania, San Marino

England manager Roy Hodgson:

"I'm very satisfied, in particular for the fans.

"We've had some quite tough trips to get to in recent years, but there's some good places to visit."

Incoming Switzerland coach Vladimir Petkovic:

"It's an interesting group for the players, managers and fans and I think we stand a chance.

"We have a young team and won't be afraid of anyone."

Slovenia coach Srecko Katanec:

"I can be satisfied, if you can say that after any draw.

"There are no long, exhaustive trips that players don't love.

"I'm aware of the strength of all our opponents, while the Baltic sides have sprung some surprises in the recent past."

Estonia coach Magnus Pehrsson:

"England are the special opponents - they are the favourites.

"They will bring more interest to our group and will make it more attractive for all the other teams."

Lithuania coach Igoris Pankratjevas:

"I can't say I'm unhappy with the draw, even if you still have to prove everything on the pitch.

"It will be interesting to meet some new opponents like England and Switzerland. It has also been a long time since we played Slovenia."

San Marino coach Pierangelo Manzaroli:

"The group is pretty even because with the new format the third-placed team can qualify, but that also makes things more difficult for us because every match will be very tough until the very end.

"We'll try to be at the top of our game, but we know it's hard for us to get points."

Group F

Greece, Hungary, Romania, Finland, Northern Ireland, Faroe Islands

Greece midfielder and co-captain Kostas Katsouranis:

"It's a good draw for us, but we have to demonstrate that on the pitch.

"I believe we have what it takes to be among the final 24 teams.

"There are no powerhouses in our group, but there are some dangerous rivals."

Romania coach Victor Piurc:

"There is time until qualifying starts, so we will study our opponents.

"We should have reached the FIFA World Cup, so qualification for EURO 2016 is a must."

Finland coach Mixu Paatelainen:

"I am pleased with the draw result.

"However, there will not be a single easy match in this group and we have to be fully focused throughout qualification.

"If we play our best, we have a chance of qualifying."

Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill:

"We've got to be pleased to be honest.

"You always look at the Pot 1 nations and, while Greece will be a very tough game, it's probably the team we'd have chosen."

Group G

Russia, Sweden, Austria, Montenegro, Moldova, Liechtenstein

Russia coach Fabio Capello:

"I consider this group a tough one. There are three very good sides in it together with us.

"I am speaking about Montenegro, Austria and Sweden."

Sweden coach Erik Hamren:

"Russia will be seen as group favourites partly because they are the only team to have qualified for the World Cup.

"We don't know the other teams in great detail but Montenegro began World Cup qualifying strongly.

"It's going to be a fantastic challenge."

Austria coach Marcel Koller:

"We have two very strong opponents in Russia and Sweden.

"I think Russia will be favourites and we all know what Sweden and Zlatan Ibrahimovi are capable of, but that doesn't mean that we will underestimate the other teams in our group."

Montenegro coach Branko Brnovic:

"It's a very challenging group, but this team can be a match for anyone.

"We will be in contention to win the group although Russia are slight favourites."

Group H

Italy, Croatia, Norway, Bulgaria, Azerbaijan, Malta

Italy coach Cesare Prandelli:

"It's true that we avoided Belgium and Switzerland, but I don't think that Croatia are inferior to those two teams that everybody wanted to avoid in Pot 2.

"The group is not as easy as many people might think and Croatia and Bulgaria are both potential group winners.

"We've played Malta recently and know the difficulties that await us, Norway have a good time and Azerbaijan are growing."

Croatia coach Niko Kovac:

"I am satisfied with the draw, but to be objective, I think Italy are the favourites in our group.

"However, the rest of the teams in this group are also serious contenders.

Norway coach Per-Mathias Hogmo:

"The draw could have been better for us, it could have been worse.

"Croatia are among the strongest sides from the second level. It's an exciting group, which I think will be quite tight."

Bulgaria coach Luboslav Penev:

"The group is hard, but not impossible. The obvious favourites are Italy, a team we know very well.

"The other teams also have their chances."

Azerbaijan coach Berti Vogts:

"You don't get any free tickets here. We are happy that we can play against Italy, and also Croatia are a big team.

"We won't make it easy for these big football nations."

Group I

Portugal, Denmark, Serbia, Armenia, Albania

Portugal coach Paulo Bento:

"It is not an easy group. It will take a lot off effort from us.

"The goal for Euro 2016 is the same as always, but we will have to keep our feet on the ground and remain as humble as we have been so far."

Denmark coach Morten Olsen:

"We have finished ahead of Portugal in previous qualification tournaments, while Serbia are a quite unknown factor.

"I was hoping to avoid teams from eastern Europe, but then again, a trip to Belgrade is not that far for instance.

Serbia interim coach Ljubinko Drulovic:

"Portugal are a magnificent team and they have the best player in the world in Cristiano Ronaldo.

"The other opponents in our group are also very awkward and we will have to fight hard to win a berth.

"I believe we have the quality, there are players who play for great clubs and I think we want to build a great team."

(Reporting By Michael Hann, editing by Ed Osmond)

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