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Netherlands make Group A tough option

Published: Sunday 23 February 2014, 17.56CET
Louis van Gaal is confident the Netherlands will qualify from what Czech coach Pavel Verba considers a tough Group A also containing Turkey, Latvia, Iceland and Kazakhstan.

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Published: Sunday 23 February 2014, 17.56CET

Netherlands make Group A tough option

Louis van Gaal is confident the Netherlands will qualify from what Czech coach Pavel Verba considers a tough Group A also containing Turkey, Latvia, Iceland and Kazakhstan.

Louis van Gaal, Netherlands coach (until after the FIFA World Cup)
History has taught us that most of the time we have beaten these opponents. And because in the new format, the runners-up as well as the group winners will quality, the Oranje have to be able to qualify for the final tournament automatically.

Pavel Vrba, Czech Republic coach
Some other groups may look relatively easier, but when I took charge of the national team I said that no other aims exist for us than qualifying. We have to fight in this harder group and hope that every team will be dropping points and we will drop the fewest number of points and qualify.

The Netherlands belong to the top tier of the European scene. Then we have some strong opponents in Turkey and also Iceland who were in contention for qualifying until the last moment in their World Cup campaign. I saw their 1-1 draw against Norway and it seemed to me they did not belong to the pot they were in. They might be dark horses of our group. Their Under-21s played at the [2011] EURO and this team have grown up.

I have also great experience of Turkish football on the European club scene. We all know that there, football is always the number one priority. Latvia and Kazakhstan are options that we least wished to be drawn against. But we want to qualify, we have to go with it.

Fatih Terim, Turkey coach
We have been drawn in one of the difficult groups. All the countries we have drawn have a cold climate. People watching the draw wanted to see us in a group with Greece or Bosnia and Herzegovina. Anyway, whichever group you are in, you know that all the teams will try to play their game. There's no guarantee in any group. Our target is to be in the EURO 2016 finals. It will be a lengthy campaign. I am confident of my team. A national team that is well-organised can achieve anything.

Marians Pahars, Latvia coach
I treat every team with a lot of respect. Of course it would have been especially interesting and exciting for me if we had been drawn against England. I have many ties with this country, I am very close to English football. But a no is a no.

The Netherlands are the favourites to win our group – they can win any competition they play in. I immediately remembered our match at EURO 2004 when the Oranje beat us 3-0. We will try to make amends this time.

There is no need to speak about Turkey either. I am sure they remember the EURO 2004 play-offs very well. Our other opponents are very strong too – I have no doubt that Iceland and Kazakhstan will make the favourites nervous. But anyway we will do our best to make our fans happy and try to make it into the finals. We already have a similar experience.

Heimir Hallgrímsson, Iceland coach
I cannot say anybody is celebrating; we could have been luckier in the draw but then again we could have been more unlucky. These are very good football nations and we will have difficulty travelling to Kazakhstan and Turkey. Now we have to see the dates because it takes 24 hours to travel to Kazakhstan and hopefully we do not have more games in that week. 

The Czechs are probably a good option since they have not been doing so well lately and travelling there is relatively easy. We were not very keen on having long difficult trips but I guess our group is as good as any other group. Our goal is always to make it to the next level and we knew it would never be easy.

Yuri Krasnozhan, Kazakhstan coach
We are in one of the toughest groups. We wanted to play against strong opponents and we got that. We have three major favourites in the Netherlands, Czech Republic and Turkey, though you can say Iceland are outsiders as well considering their recent performances. Our task is to move one pot higher and be in Pot 5, not Pot 6, for the next draw.

Sergei Khizhnichenko, Kazakhstan forward
In a one-off match we can take on anyone, anything can happen. Kazakhstan want to make progress, we have a new coach and new aims, and I am sure we will have an exciting qualification campaign. We are already acquainted with Turkey, but are yet to play against our other opponents. I hope that our fans will be happy with our performance in the end.

Last updated: 05/06/15 1.43CET

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