Lowdown on Ireland’s play off opponents

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Updated: October 13, 2011

SportsNewsIreland looks at the teams that Ireland could be drawn against in the play off’s. Ireland are seeded for the draw which takes place at 1pm CET today and will face one of Turkey, Bosnia, Estonia or Montenegro for a place in Poland and the Ukraine next summer.

Turkey

World Rankings: 27

Star man: Hamit Altintop (Real Madrid)

The lowdown: Despite being the team that everyone wants to avoid, Turkey only just made the play off’s thanks to a German win over Belguim.

Hiddink’s team lost both games to group winner’s Germany, losing 3-1 at home and 3-0 away and struggled on the road losing to Azerbaijan and drawing with Austria

However Guus Hiddink’s side boasts a real attacking threat with winger Hamit Altintop and his club-mate Nuri Sahin both in the side.

Historically Ireland has a good record against Turkey and has only lost once in 12 games against the Turks although not many will forget the European Championship play-off of 1998 when an away goal saw Ireland miss out on a trip to the Netherland’s and Belguim.

Bosnia

World rankings: 22

Star man: Edin Dzeko

Road to the play off’s: Bosnia was denied their automatic place in Poland and the Ukraine when a late Samir Nasri penalty gave the French a crucial point and with it top spot. Won six of their 10 games, losing only two games, at home to France and way to Romania, they look strong at home winning 4 of their five games however on the road they struggled slightly drawing 2, one of which was against Albania, and losing one.

Bosnia will represent something of an unknown quantity as we have never played against them although Shay Given will be aware of the dangers of star man Edin Dzeko having spent 6 months together at Manchester City.

Estonia

World Rankings: 58

Star player: Konstantin Vassiljev (Amkar Perm)

The low down: The lowest ranked of all the sides in Pot2, this is probably the team that most teams will hope for. Grouped with Northern Ireland, Serbia, Slovenia and Italy, the Estonian’s finished second in the group despite losing four matches and beat the Northern Irish 4-1 at home and 2-1 away. Vassiljev scored both goals at Windsor Park after coming on a substitute and has scored 14 goals in 46 games for his country.

Montenegro

World rankings: 27

Star Player: Mirko Vucinic

Montenegro finished runners up in Group G behind England, winning only 3 of their 8 games, to finished 6 points behind Fabio Capello’s men. They drew both games against the English, coming form 2-0 down to record a draw last weekend, but lost on to Wales and Switzerland on their travels and drew with Bulgaria at home although they did manage to beat the Bulgarian’s on their own patch, recording a 1-0 win.

They are captained by Juventus star Mirko Vucinic and also boasts in their ranks former Liverpool winger Milan Jovanović

The positives for Ireland here are that we haven’t lost in two games against the Montenegrin, drawing both games 0-0 in the FIFA 2010 qualification group.

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