Germany satisfied with 2006 World Cup draw
10 December 2005, LEIPZIG - Hosts Germany will kick off the 2006 World Cup on June 9, 2006, against Costa Rica and could meet England in the round of 16 if both advance and one of two doesn't win their group.
10 December 2005
LEIPZIG - Hosts Germany will kick off the 2006 World Cup on June 9, 2006, against Costa Rica and could meet England in the round of 16 if both advance and one of two doesn't win their group.
Argentina were drawn into a tough group for the World Cup on Friday just like in 2002, running into fellow-title contenders Netherlands, Serbia and Montenegro and talented newcomers Ivory Coast.
Holders Brazil have strong opponents in the 1998 third-place finishers Croatia and a delicate date with Japan who are coached by former Brazil great Zico.
After opening against Costa Rica, group A seeds Germany face Poland, which brings back memories of the first World Cup in Germany 1974 where the hosts narrowly won 1-0 to reach the final and ultimately win the title. The other team is Ecuador.
"We are very satisfied. Of course it could have been much worse. We believe that we can absolutely get through the group. We don't want to underestimate anyone but we have a good feeling. The draw gave us a little bit of help. Now we can get started," said Germany coach Juergen Klinsmann.
In group B, seeded England meet the Swedish compatriots of their coach Sven-Goran Eriksson, bringing back memories of the 2002 group of death which also featured Argentina and Nigeria. Paraguay and Trinidad and Tobago are also in the group.
"I think that it is not an easy group but it could have been worse. On paper we are favourites to win the group but you never know," said Eriksson.
Looking at Sweden, whom England haven't beaten in 37 years, he added: "It seems to be our destiny to play against them. Sooner or later we have to beat them."
England and Sweden advanced from the tough 2002 group, but Argentina hope to do better this time around in group C with the Dutch - whom they defeated in the 1978 final - the Serbs plus the Ivory Coast.
"I wouldn't call it a group of death. The Ivory Coast are at the World Cup for the first time. Holland are very strong, but the group is not as strong as the one in 2002," FIFA's Argentinian vice-president Julio Grondone told Deutsche Presse-Agentur, dpa.
Dutch coach Marco van Basten said: "I guess we have an interesting group. Argentina have a rich football history and many experienced players who play in Europe. The Ivory Coast are a very good African team. We have to be wide awake from the start."
Serbia coach Ilija Petkovic was undeterred about the prominent opposition.
"The first impression is, yes, this is the toughest group, but I say again, it was so in qualifications and from here and now we can only go forward," Petkovic said.
At least as difficult is group E with three-time champions Italy, the Czech Republic, United States and debutants Ghana.
"Italy have been drawn into a serious group. We don't have to talk about the Czech Republic, the United States have made a lot of progress and African football is gaining more and more attention," said former Italy coach Giovanni Trapattoni, who now coaches VfB Stuttgart.
Seeds Mexico were drawn to top group D where they meet newcomers Angola, Portugal and Iran.
Brazil's opponents in group F are dangerous Croatia, Australia and Japan.
"There are not easy teams. We will have very demanding matches. The games against Japan are not against Zico, but really against Japan. I am not able to say how far we can go," said Brazil coach Carlos Alberto Parreira.
The 1998 winners France are top of group G and play Switzerland like in the qualifying round, debutants Togo and the 2002 semi-finalists South Korea.
Group H also appears open with seeds Spain joined by newcomers Ukraine, Tunisia and Saudi Arabia.
The draw conducted by FIFA communications director Markus Siegler reached a record television audience estimated at 320 million in 150 countries.
The teams were drawn from four pots by world football greats Pele, Johann Cruyff, Roger Milla, Christian Karembeu, Cobi Jones, Masashi Nakayama, Lothar Matthaeus and Lucas Radebe.
Germany and Brazil were placed at the top of their groups ahead of the draw and will play their games in the biggest stadiums of Berlin, Munich and Dortmund. They can not meet before the July 9, 2006, final in Berlin, provided they win their groups.
The draw was the highlight of a 90-minute show. It was hosted by German supermodel Heidi Klum and TV presenter Reinhold Beckmann and featured acts such as Colombian singer Juanes and the Young German Philharmonics.
The crowd in Leipzig's Congress Centre Hall 1 included 4,000 invited guests, such as FIFA president Joseph Blatter, chief tournament organiser Franz Beckenbauer, German president Horst Koehler and Chancellor Angela Merkel.
"I think we got through the week (of football meetings) and the draw quite well. Everything went very satisfactory," said Beckenbauer, who won the World Cup as a player in 1974 and as a coach in 1990.
Subject: German news