Contenders ponder tasks ahead

The draw for the group stage of the UEFA Cup has thrown up some interesting ties as collects the reaction from the sides involved in Groups A-D.

Group A
AS Monaco FC, SK Slavia Praha, Hamburger SV, PFC CSKA Sofia, Viking FK

An interesting yet difficult draw at the same time. A lot depends on the timing of the fixtures. I don't think there'll be any easy matches, especially on the road. Monaco director Alain Clou

I wanted to play against Hamburg as my son David plays there, and Monaco are also very attractive opponents. These two are favourites in our group, and we want to advance with them. But the other two sides will say the same, so we cannot underestimate any team. Slavia coach Karel Jarolím

It's great to be back in Europe. We have been handed some exciting fixtures and we are looking forward to every single match. We obviously want to progress and I'm absolutely sure that we've got the quality to reach the next round. Hamburg coach Thomas Doll

The draw could have been better, but I said beforehand that our aim is to go through and remain in the competition come the spring. At first glance, I would say that Monaco and Hamburg are the favourites, but we will fight to qualify. CSKA coach Miodrag Jesic

It's an interesting but hard draw. I am satisfied, we had to meet strong teams anyway. No one can expect us to to through. Viking coach Roy Hodgson

Group B
FC Lokomotiv Moskva, RCD Espanyol, US Città di Palermo, Brøndby IF, Maccabi Petach-Tikva FC

This is a very tough group. Every team is a big name except for Maccabi, but we still have to qualify for the next stage. It is very difficult to pick a favourite as all the teams are more or less equal, and we do not know their current form. I hope we will overcome our slight crisis of confidence before the UEFA Cup starts; then we will have every chance. Lokomotiv assistant coach Zaur Khapov

Lokomotiv stand out but the rest of the teams are of an equal level. The Russian team are a great side who will go into these games better prepared as their league started earlier. As regards Brøndby and Palermo, Danish teams are usually physically and technically strong and Italian sides are always dangerous especially away from home because of the way they like to control play. Espanyol midfield player Antonio Álvarez 'Ito'

It's a tough draw. Lokomotiv are currently top of the Russian league and we also have one team from Italy and one from Spain but we will have to do everything we can to finish in the top three and advance. Maccabi Petach-Tikva chairman Avi Luzon

It is a tough group like all the others - Lokomotiv are leading the Russian league, Palermo finished sixth in Serie A last season as newcomers, Espanyol beat Real Madrid [CF] recently, and Maccabi Petach-Tikva - whom we do not know a lot about - put out [FK] Partizan with a big away win. We will probably need at least a win and a draw in our two home matches, and at least one draw away, to go through. Brøndby coach Michael Laudrup

Group C
Hertha BSC Berlin, RC Lens, UC Sampdoria, FC Steaua Bucuresti, Halmstads BK

We have been handed interesting matches against teams from all over Europe, so we're very happy with the draw. It promises to be exciting for the fans and I am sure we have got the potential to qualify for the next round. Hertha coach Falko Götz

It's a good draw with short trips and therefore no cause for concern in terms of fatigue. In order to reach our qualification target, it will be necessary to win our two games at home. Lens president Gervais Martel

It's a strange group because we all seem to be as strong as each other. The trips to Lens and Berlin will doubtless be difficult and even Halmstad are a tough side despite being ranked fifth according to the coefficient. But we feel if we play well we can make it to the next round. Sampdoria managing director Umberto Marino

We're very happy to be in a tough group as we will get the chance to play teams from the strongest championship in Europe. Our players will have the chance to prove how good they are - we are looking forward to the games and the last thing we will be is afraid. Steaua assistant coach Stefan Stoica

Group D
AZ Alkmaar, Middlesbrough FC, FC Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk, Grasshopper-Club, PFC Litez Lovech

Middlesbrough are the most attractive name in our group, I had hoped for an English opponent. I do not know much about our other opponents; Grasshoppers do well in Switzerland, Dnipro are struggling in the Ukrainian Premier League, but that also was the case with [first-round opponents FC] Krylya Sovetov Samara from Russia, and they played pretty good football against us. AZ midfield player Barry van Galen

AZ are an attack-minded team, are top of the Dutch Eredivisie and going great. They've got a talented coach and some very good players. Grasshoppers have a strong reputation in European football and are currently doing well in their domestic league, as always. We don't know much about the other two sides but we will certainly be doing our homework. Middlesbrough manager Steve McClaren

I never expect anything good from any draw. We were given quality rivals this time too, namely AZ and Middlesbrough, but we never give up without a fight. We will be looking forward to playing Grasshoppers and Litex with just as much anticipation. In our group, much will depend on the outcome of the first matches, but there are no obvious underdogs to my mind. This is positive for us as all five teams could drop points. Dnipro coach Evgeniy Kucherevskiy

Our aim is to emulate the success of FC Thun in the UEFA Champions League. They have done so well and we hope to make a similar impact on the UEFA Cup. Our objectives are quite modest but we hope we can advance from the group - it would raise the profile of our club and help the Swiss game in general ahead of UEFA EURO 2008. But it is a difficult draw so we must be realistic. Grasshoppers director Karl-Heinz Riedle

I think we're in a very good group, I cannot say whether we're satisfied with the draw. A man is glad when he reaches his aim, and our aim is to through. I think we have the chance to do that. Litex president Angel Bonchev