Following Monday's draw for the four play-off matches in the Europe Zone, representatives from the eight nations involved gave their exclusive reactions to FIFA.com and spoke about their side's chances of reaching the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™.
Republic of Ireland-France
"It's a very tough draw as Ireland were one of the teams we wanted to avoid. They are great competitors and they never give up. It didn't surprise me to see them finish the qualifying phase unbeaten, but we only lost one match and we have a good side that is getting better with every game. I wish both sides the best of luck," Gerard Houllier, France, National Technical Director.
"We weren't seeded and we knew we were going to get a really tough draw no matter what. But I also think it's going to be hard for other teams to play us. France will not have it easy at all. We were unbeaten in the group phase and we don't tend to win or lose games by many goals. I would have preferred to play the second leg at home but I'd expect a lot of our fans to travel to France for the second leg. There were 20,000 of them the last time we went there," John Delaney, Republic of Ireland, Chief Executive of the Football Association of Ireland.
"Bosnia have some exceptional players with lots of international experience and the atmosphere at the stadium will be very intimidating. We need to be very watchful and prepare in depth if we're going to win over there. My feeling is, though, that if we play the way we have been doing recently we'll be in South Africa," Carlos Queiroz, Portugal, National Coach.
"Portugal were the team I least wanted to face. Obviously I'm not very happy and we're going to have to fight very hard in both games. Portugal are clear favourites but in football the favourites don't always win. It's going to be very entertaining, that's for sure, because both sides like to play football," Miroslav Blazevic, Bosnia-Herzegovina, National Coach.
"We are all very happy with how the draw has turned out. Slovenia are a good team who play nice football. Our team and our coach know where we went wrong in the last few games and they know that we need to improve for this play-off. We have to be completely focused because Slovenia are a young side with a lot of talent," Sergei Kulikov, Russia, Head of the Russian FA's Communications Department.
"I can't say I'm happy with the draw. Slovenia will have to be at their very best because Russia are a really strong team. I would have liked to have played the first game in Maribor, in Slovenia, but you can't have everything. We need to put two excellent performances together and have a little bit of luck too," Matjaz Kek, Slovenia, National Coach.
"There are no easy teams so I can't complain about our luck in the draw. We played Ukraine twice in the Germany 2006 qualifiers so we know them and they know us. I think we have a good team, though, and I am very confident that we will make it to South Africa. We have a lot of talent, a great coach and some very passionate fans. That all helps," Panagiotis Fyssas, Greece, National Technical Director.
"I think it was a good draw but we'll know for sure after the matches. If we win, that will mean that it was a good draw after all. Greece are very strong at home because their fans are amazing. We need to prepare hard because if we make the slightest mistake it could be fatal. We have a young team and we take a lot of inspiration from our magnificent performance of four years ago," Alexei Mikhailichenko, Ukraine, National Coach.
"It was a real honour to be invited to take part in the draw and I really feel as if the World Cup starts now. The tie between Ireland and France stands out for me and I think that's going to be the closest one of the four. I've played against Ireland and they are incredibly determined. The French have a spectacular team too and I also like the look of Portugal, Russia and Greece," South Africa player Steven Pienaar, who helped make the draw.