Belfast Telegraph

World Cup 2018: Confident Germany boss Joachim Low aims high again

By Steven Beacom

Germany's World Cup winning manager Joachim Low fancies taking on an 'ambitious' Northern Ireland side when qualification for the 2018 tournament begins next year.

Low, who guided Germany to the ultimate high in football in Brazil in 2014, was satisfied with the outcome of Saturday's group draw in Russia, avoiding dangerous pot two teams Italy and France and ending up with World Cup group fixtures against Northern Ireland, the Czech Republic, Norway, Azerbaijan and San Marino..

Low is never short of respect for opponents and says the German side won't take anything for granted,but in the same breath admitted he was happy with what lies ahead for the holders.

"We have an interesting group against good opponents," said the 55-year-old.

"We are of course pleased with the draw. It's clear that we want to be, as a world champion, group winners and we are the favourites to do that but the Czech Republic, Norway and Northern Ireland are very ambitious and have had very good results in recent years."

Northern Ireland boss Michael O'Neill says that with Germany in the group the rest are fighting for second and the play-off place that will bring.

He is not alone in those views.

Czech Republic boss Pavel Vrba said: "It is obviously clear at first sight that the favourite in the group is Germany and our biggest rivals for second place will be Norway and Northern Ireland.

"We cannot say in advance that it will certainly work out that way but it looks like we will be playing for second place."

Norway manager Per-Mathias Hogmo stated: "It's an exciting group that provides opportunities for a national team that is in development."

He also spoke of his relief at avoiding France and Italy and not being in Group A which includes the French, Holland and Norway's neighbours Sweden.

"There is no doubt that it was very beneficial to avoid France and Italy and also Sweden's group which is very tough," said Hogmo.

Belfast Telegraph


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