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Denmark's Keld Bordinggaard was heartily relieved to have avoided Spain as the hosts took their place alongside Belarus, Switzerland and Iceland in UEFA European Under-21 Championship Group A, but none of the coaches in the section were under any illusion as to the task they face to reach the knockout stage next summer.
Keld Bordinggaard, Denmark coach
It's a small, personal gift to avoid Spain, but everything else looks pretty even. Switzerland were very impressive in the play-offs but their coach said that they were their best recent performances, which calmed me down a bit; what didn't is knowing that they have five potential senior internationals in their squad.
It's the second successive time that Belarus have qualified so that shows they're doing something right. Last time we played against Iceland we beat them 3-2 [June 2009 in Aalborg] but a lot has happened since then. Icelandic players have a fantastic attitude, combining great strength together with great technique, but we're capable of pushing on to a higher level when needed.
Georgi Kondratyev, Belarus coach
All the teams gathered here are very strong so there was no side in particular we wanted to play or avoid. We got Denmark, Switzerland and Iceland so, OK, we play these three. If you look at the names of the countries, at the reputations of their senior national teams, then Group B does look stronger, but age-group football is something different and we all are yet to see which section is stronger.
I am relaxed about again being placed in the same group as the hosts [as Belarus were in Sweden in 2009]; maybe it's our fate. I can't judge our future rivals because I haven't seen them play. We will try to qualify for the semi-finals and I will not be satisfied if we play great football but don't get out of the group.
Pierluigi Tami, Switzerland coach
We are satisfied with the draw, especially as the Czech Republic, possibly the favourites to win this tournament, are in the other group. But while we are happy enough, the fact remains that these are the eight strongest teams in Europe, and they are all going to be tough. In fact, perhaps the biggest danger in our group lies in the fact that we don't have a Spain or an England.
Instead we have an Iceland side that eliminated Germany in their group, Belarus who knocked out Italy, and Denmark who have home advantage. So really you are looking at a difficult group where all the teams pose a threat. Our main strength, meanwhile, is that we are a proper team. We are a group that likes to play together, that fights for one another, and because of this we are also able to show the other qualities we have.
Tómas Ingi Tómasson, assistant Iceland coach
The draw is good for us – it was always going to be difficult so I think we're just happy to be here. Any of the teams will be good for us and we'll be going into each game trying to win. Playing Denmark is good; we have a lot of Icelanders in Aarhus and Aalborg so I hope we have big support here in Denmark. It means everything for football in Iceland to make this tournament.
We are building up a good team so hopefully for the future we'll have a good senior side. I've seen a couple of Belarus' games – I think Iceland and Belarus are similar on paper but you never know. It's how things go on the day and who's in good form on the day, but I hope we will do well. I hope we will surprise next summer as well [as in the qualifiers]. We have a great team, good players playing in Europe and hopefully we'll score a lot goals and impress the spectators.
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