The ball is round

Belarus’ national football team could give a sigh of relief after the draw for the UEFA EURO 2008 qualifying competition in Montreux, Switzerland
Belarus’ national football team could give a sigh of relief after the draw for the UEFA EURO 2008 qualifying competition in Montreux, Switzerland. “Fortunate, finally,” our fans might think. Being in the sixth, the last but one basket, Belarus could have crossed paths with any of the five “coolest” teams from the first basket, Germany, England, France, Spain and the Netherlands. So it is not that bad having the Netherlands yet again. Group G includes the Dutch team, Bulgaria, Romania, Slovenia, Albania, Belarus and Luxembourg.

Fifty countries participated in the draw, which was conducted by two famous names from Austrian and Swiss football Andreas Herzog and Stйphane Chapuisat respectively, with Austria and Switzerland qualifying automatically as co-hosts. But one should not get overexcited and shout about “the lesser evil”, or the “lesser football monster”. Specialists and fans are sure the Netherlands are the top-ranked team in Group G, but we played them so many times. We all remember the wonderful victory and the super-goal of Gerasimets. Slovenia is once again in the same pool with Belarus. Their fans can outshrill anyone and referees are always under pressure. It is hard to beat them in Slovenia, but home matches should be no problem for Belarus. Romania and Bulgaria are also in contention trying to vie for a top-two berth [the seven winners and seven runners-up of each pool progress to the finals], while Luxembourg is definitely a team to beat. In short, Bulgaria, Romania, Slovenia and Albania look very much alike and play a very strong football, but they all lack stability, and Belarus may find it quite opportune.

Dmitry Tkachev
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