Race for Germany 2006 starts Saturday

2nd September 2004, Comments 0 comments

3 September 2004, HAMBURG - Although the first European qualifiers for the 2006 World Cup have already been played, there can be little doubt, that the 'real' qualification process for Germany starts on Saturday. Eight teams (Macedonia, Romania, Finland, Armenia, Slovakia, Estonia, Liechtenstein and Luxembourg) have already played a qualifying match, but most of them are not considered strong enough to challenge for a place at the finals. Ironically in Group 1, the two teams that have already won a game -

3 September 2004

HAMBURG - Although the first European qualifiers for the 2006 World Cup have already been played, there can be little doubt, that the 'real' qualification process for Germany starts on Saturday.

Eight teams (Macedonia, Romania, Finland, Armenia, Slovakia, Estonia, Liechtenstein and Luxembourg) have already played a qualifying match, but most of them are not considered strong enough to challenge for a place at the finals.

Ironically in Group 1, the two teams that have already won a game - Macedonia and Romania - meet in Skopje. Both sides know that a victory will keep them at the top of the table, irrespective of the outcome of other matches.

The only other game in group 1 sees Finland at home to Andorra.

In Group 2, the pressure will be on surprise Euro champions Greece to continue where they left of in Portugal. Otto Rehhagel's side faces an uncomfortable trip to Albania, who have long shed the image of whipping boys of European football.

Denmark and Ukraine, who are expected to provide tough opposition for Greece for a place at the finals, clash in Copenhagen, while Turkey are at home to Georgia.

Portugal, who are still reeling with the disappointment of having lost the Euro final against Greece, start their World Cup campaign in Latvia in a Group 3 match. Also in the same group are Russia (at home to Slovakia) and Estonia, who take on Luxembourg.

The 1998 world champions, France, play their first qualifying game against Israel - a team that knocked them out of the 1994 World Cup. French coach Raymond Domench has to build a new side without the likes of Zinedine Zidane and Bixente Lizerazu.

Also in Group 4, Ireland are hoping to get their campaign off to a winning start against Cyprus, while Switzerland are at home to the Faroe Islands.

Group 5 favourites Italy are at home to Norway in a match that marks Marcello Lippi's first game at home in charge of the national side. His first game with Italy ended in a 2-0 defeat in Iceland and he will be hoping to do better against the Norwegians.

Slovenia and Moldova clash in the other group game.

In Group 6, Sven Goran Eriksson takes his England side to Austria without several regulars. The Swede said he is hoping for four points from the first two matches (away to Austria and Poland), but said that: "The main target is to qualify for the World Cup in 2006 in one way or another. England must be in Germany."

Wales and Northern Ireland, who are also in Group 6, begin their campaign in Azerbaijan and at home to Poland respectively.

Group 7 sees minnows San Marino at home to Serbia and Montenegro, while Belgium face Lithuania.

Sweden travel to Malta for their Group 8 game, Croatia take on Hungary, while Iceland play Bulgaria in the same group.

The eight group winners, as well as the two second-placed teams qualify directly, while the six other second-placed teams are drawn against each other for three play-off matches (on home and away basis) to determine the other three European qualifiers.

DPA

Subject: German news  

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