Football: Ukraine wary of WC qualifing 'minnows'

KIEV, Aug 1, 2011 (AFP) - Ukraine's national coach Oleg Blokhin said Monday that he considered England to be the 2014 World Cup qualifying Group H favourites adding that Ukraine should avoid underestimation of their other group rivals.

"The qualifying group's minnows always created plenty of problems for us," Blokhin said. "If we fail to obtain a 100-percent record in the matches with them it will be very hard to finish top of the group."

"I'm pleased that we managed to avoid playing in the group with Spain, France of Netherlands. It could be very hard to oppose them," he added.

"England are not so strong now and, I believe, we have fair chances for a positive result against them."

Blokhin added that he was currently more anxious about Ukraine's performance at their home Euro-2012, adding he would think about matches with England and other opponents in case he remains at the post after the end of the European champs.

"My contract expires after the end of the European championships," Blokhin said. "I will start to think how to beat England if I remain Ukraine's coach after it."

Ukraine's football federation president Grigory Surkis also expressed his satisfaction that Ukraine managed to avoid meeting with Spain and Netherlands in the 2014 World Cup qualifications.

"We've got a favourable draw result," Surkis said.

"We have winning experience in the qualifying matches with England. I hope we will be able to extend it."

Ukraine's international midfielder Anatoly Tymoshchuk, who is currently playing with German Bundesliga side Bayern, was also pleased with the results of the draw.

"We are in a very interesting group," Tymoshchuk said. "We already played with England in the previous World Cup qualifyers and managed to beat them in Dnepropetrovsk. That was their only group defeat.

"Poland are our neighbours and co-hosts of Euro-2012. They are strong and we know them very well as we recently played in a friendly match. And, of course, it will be interesting to play Montenegro, Moldova and San Marino for the first time."

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