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Bilić positive about Croatia's prospects

Published: Sunday 7 February 2010, 13.14CET
Croatia coach Slaven Bilić sounded a confident note about the draw but was also quick to point out the strength of his team's Group F rivals, with Greece, Israel and Latvia top of that list.

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Published: Sunday 7 February 2010, 13.14CET

Bilić positive about Croatia's prospects

Croatia coach Slaven Bilić sounded a confident note about the draw but was also quick to point out the strength of his team's Group F rivals, with Greece, Israel and Latvia top of that list.

A quarter-finalist in Austria and Switzerland, Croatia coach Slaven Bilić expressed satisfaction with his team's lot in UEFA EURO 2012 Group F, despite having "lots of respect" for ambitious Greece, Israel and Latvia. Those three sides were drawn together en route to the 2010 FIFA World Cup, with 2004 European champions Greece qualifying via the play-offs, and are joined in the section by Malta and Georgia.

Slaven Bilić, Croatia coach
We are happy with the draw. We could have had an easier group, but then again it could have been harder. These groups are the qualification groups for the European Championship, so you don't get easy ones. We have lots of respect for all the teams – for Greece, Israel and Latvia who showed in the last campaign that they were really close to qualifying for the World Cup. Plus those three teams were in the same group and it was very tight, with Switzerland also there. Then you add Georgia and Malta, where we played a few years ago and it finished 1-1. We have plenty of respect, but we are confident and we have a good chance of fighting for qualification.

Otto Rehhagel, Greece coach
We have played against all our rivals in Group F, except Croatia, in recent qualifying competitions. Theoretically, Croatia are the strongest team but we shouldn't underestimate the rest. It's a good group for us and we will fight for top spot or at least second place, which would give us a shot at the play-offs. In crucial matches recently, Greece's players have shown enthusiasm, passion and have got the desired result. Right now we are completely focused on the World Cup, where we intend to do well.

Yossi Benayoun, Israel player
We should concentrate on ourselves and how to improve on our previous campaigns. We should do everything we can to get ourselves into a qualifying position. It's pointless to spend our time talking about an easy or tough group, as we learned in the previous campaign that this makes no difference.

Aleksandrs Starkovs, Latvia coach
We've been drawn in an interesting group, where all the teams apart from Latvia are from southern Europe. We've played all of them in previous qualifying rounds, apart from Malta. Because they are familiar opponents, we have old rivalries and there will be a lot of memories as we go into the matches. Now that the draw is finished, it's time to prepare for a new qualification campaign.

Levan Mchedlidze, Georgia player
I think we can beat any team from this group. I can't pick a favourite, although Croatia have the best team in the section. The last qualifying campaign proved there are no more weak national teams left in Europe. We aim to win every match and have to believe we have the strength to succeed.

John Buttigieg, Malta coach
It's a very difficult group. We've got two former Soviet countries in Latvia and Georgia plus the might of Croatia and Greece, along with Israel. These aren't popular footballing countries with the football community in Malta.

 
Last updated: 26/10/12 13.10CET

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