December 1, 2017 / 4:44 PM / 17 days ago

Reaction to the World Cup draw

(Reuters) - Group-by-group reaction to the World Cup draw on Friday:

Soccer Football - 2018 FIFA World Cup Draw - State Kremlin Palace, Moscow, Russia - December 1, 2017 The nations coaches pose for a photo after the draw REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach

Group A

Russia, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Uruguay

Russian coach Stanislav Cherchesov: “I cannot say if I am happy or not after the draw. The group is what it is.”

“My emotions ahead and after the draw are the same. I smiled when we got Uruguay because they asked to have a friendly match against us and we did not agree. They were chasing us and finally got us.”

Russia Deputy Prime Minister Vitaly Mutko: “This is a fine group (for Russia). We don’t know much about the Saudi Arabia team but it must be a disciplined and stubborn team.”

Cairo’s Al Ahram newspaper: “The Pharaohs could hardly have hoped for a better outcome to Friday’s draw.”

Group B

Portugal, Spain, Morocco, Iran

Portugal coach Fernando Santos: “It’s a very deceptive and treacherous group. Portugal have to accept that we are one of the favourites but if you look in a bit more detail, you can see it’s very difficult. Spain are naturally favourites, as I’ve always said.”

Spain coach Julen Lopetegui: ”Portugal are a great team, the current European champions and with a host of top-level footballers. The majority of Morocco’s players are playing in Europe and they knocked the Ivory Coast out and haven’t lost any games.

“Iran didn’t concede a single goal in qualifying and have a coach who has been there a long time.”

Iran coach Carlos Queiroz: “Personally, I‘m happy because Spain and Portugal are two very special teams for me. For Iran, it’s going to be really tough... the most important thing is to play with ambition and leave the World Cup honourably.”

Morocco coach Herve Renard: “Our first match against Iran will be decisive....It looks difficult on paper but nothing is impossible in football. We have to believe in ourselves and continue with the same dynamic... it’s going to be marvellous.”

Group C

France, Australia, Peru, Denmark

Denmark defender Peter Ankersen: “France are really strong but I saw their games against Sweden. There are places where you can hurt France. The other two teams, Australia and Peru, I‘m not too familiar with them but immediately I think it’s a good enough draw.”

Peru coach Ricardo Gareca: “I like the group, I think it’s an interesting group with very good teams... and all teams who try to play and I think that can fit in well with our characteristics. I think it suits us.”

Noel Le Graet, president of the French Football Federation: “We have to work hard and not judge anybody. You can’t go into a World Cup and think this and that opponent is easy, that would be a great mistake.”

Group D

Argentina, Iceland, Croatia, Nigeria

Former Argentina captain Diego Maradona: “It’s not a bad group at all. Argentina have to improve... we can’t play as badly as we have been doing.”

Argentina coach Jorge Sampaoli: ”The only thing I can tell our fans is that we will make Argentina proud. I also have the best player in history, that’s always a plus.

“Nigeria are an unpredictable side. With Nigeria you don’t know who you’re going to get. They’re very dangerous.”

“Our opponents will go there with few obligations and a lot of enthusiasm, the World Cup has given them a unique opportunity.”

Iceland captain Aron Gunnarsson: ”This is an incredibly difficult group... This will be an experience but really difficult.

“Argentina have one of the strongest squads in football... the Nigerian players are great athletes, physically strong and it’s difficult to cope with them.”

Croatia coach Zlatko Dalic: “It could have been better but it could also have been worse. I think we can navigate our way into the knockout stages but it’s going to be tough... (Argentina) are the favourites of course but we won’t roll over.”

Nigeria striker Odion Ighalo: “I am happy that we are not going to play Brazil and Germany in the first round. With this draw, we have a good chance of qualifying from the group. It’s a tough group and we have to work really hard.”

Group E

Brazil, Switzerland, Costa Rica, Serbia

Brazil coach Tite: “More than evaluating the group, what I always have in mind is the evolution and consolidation of the team. These are top-class adversaries and that’s why they are here.”

“I will do everything to make us improve. I have been in charge for 16 games, that is like three months in a club.”

Switzerland coach Vladimir Petkovic: ”Brazil are not the only opponents in the group, the others are also difficult.

“We must be prepared for Costa Rica, they are awkward opponents. Serbia have always had good individuals and this time they have formed a good group.”

Serbia FA vice president Savo Milosevic: “It’s always good to have one entertaining opponent in your group and Brazil are one, without question. The other two rivals, Costa Rica and Switzerland, are ones we can hold our own against and I am confident we can go through... if we play our best football.”

Group F

Germany, Mexico, Sweden, South Korea

Germany coach Joachim Loew: “This is a very interesting group of opponents. What we want to do in the group stage is set a foundation for the successful title defence. This is our goal.”

Germany goalkeeper Manuel Neuer: “Mexico play aggressive football, we can cope well with Sweden and we know what to expect given they eliminated Italy. South Korea are a strong team.”

Sweden coach Jan Andersson: “Clearly Germany are the favourites, they are very good and a great footballing nation. I‘m not that up on Mexico and South Korea but it’ll be about studying from now on.”

Group G

Belgium, Panama, Tunisia, England

Belgium coach Roberto Martinez: “It is a challenging group, I think it is the most demanding group in terms of travelling.”

England manager Gareth Southgate: “To have played in a World Cup for my country was an incredible honour. To lead them there as a manager is beyond that.”

”Remembering the Tunisia game in 1998, it was the first thing that went through my mind. It was a fantastic day and it’s nice to be able to relive that.

“We know everything about Belgium. I think that will capture the imagination back home as they have so many players in our league. They have probably the best group of players they’ve ever had.”

Group H

Poland, Senegal, Colombia, Japan

Poland forward Robert Lewandowski on Twitter: “Hello my brother @jamesdrodriguez. I remember your great goals during the last World Cup. I hope you will remember mine from Russia.”

Colombia coach Jose Pekerman: “We were worried about getting one of the big names, I wanted a balanced group and I think we’ve got that. When you get to a World Cup the past is not important, memories are just those, every team starts from scratch... The most exciting thing is Colombia are here.”

Former Senegal goalkeeeper Tony Sylva: “We have a decent group but we must be cautious...Nothing will be easy, but it is a group in which we have a chance and so now we must begin our work.”

Compiled by Brian Homewood; Editing by Toby Davis and Clare Fallon

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