Montenegro stand between the Czech Republic and a place in next summer’s UEFA European Championships in Poland and Ukraine. The playoff draw was made today at UEFA headquarters, luckily for the Czechs they were one of the four seeded teams for the draw – along with Portugal, Croatia and Ireland. The teams in the unseeded half of the draw were Estonia, Montenegro, Bosnia and Turkey.
A match-up with either Bosnia or Turkey would have been a big task for the Czechs to overcome. Bosnia boast in-form Manchester City striker Edin Dzeko (formerly of Teplice) and play-maker Miralem Pjanić who plays for Italian side Lazio. Turkey will call upon their coach Guus Hiddink to navigate their way through the playoffs, Hiddink has worked wonders with other international sides – none more so than South Korea who made it to the Semi-Finals of the World Cup back in 2002.
Vladimir Smicer, Czech national team manager was pleased at avoiding Turkey “It’s a neutral draw. We did not want Turkey, other options [Estonia, Bosnia, Montenegro] were relatively balanced. We are adequately prepared”
Montenegro finished second in their group behind England and had a mixed qualifying campaign. They were unbeaten at home with two wins and two draws – the most recent game saw an impressive second half comeback against England to salvage a 2-2 draw. But they have shown vulnerability on the road as they were defeated in Wales and Switzerland, this is something the Czechs will have to exploit to stand a chance of progressing.
The first leg will take place on 11 or 12 November in Czech Republic with the away leg in Montenegro on 15 November.
Euro 2012 play off draw
Turkey vs. Croatia
Estonia vs. Republic of Ireland
Czech Republic vs. Montenegro
Bosnia vs. Portugal