Turkey v Croatia, Estonia v Republic of Ireland, Czech Republic v Montenegro and Bosnia and Herzegovina v Portugal are the Euro 2012 play-offs to be played on 11-15 November, according to the draw that took place in Krakow on Thursday, uefa.com informs. The draw produced a repeat of an epic quarter-final from 2008 when Turkey eliminated Croatia on penalties.
From 2000 to 2006, Turkey figured in four consecutive play-offs, with mixed results. Their triumph at Euro 2000 against the Republic of Ireland prefacing a run to the quarter-finals and the 2002 World Cup were both accomplished missions yet later attempts met with failure.
Slaven Bilic’s side have been involved in one previous major tournament play-off. With a place at the 1998 FIFA World Cup at stake, Croatia faced Ukraine in a double-header that will provide happy memories for Bilic, who scored the first of two unanswered goals in the home leg.
On the other hand Estonia must still be pinching themselves at reaching a first play-off given they endured a five-match losing streak this year, including a 2-0 defeat by the Faroe Islands in June. The good news for Ireland is that they are on familiar ground, having featured in five separate play-offs. The bad news is that they have prevailed only once. Their first time was in December 1995 when they lost 2-0 to the Netherlands, Patrick Kluivert scoring twice in a one-off fixture at Anfield.
This will be the Czechs’ third play-off assignment and supporters will want to revive memories of November 2005 rather than of four years earlier. The first instance was a 2-0 aggregate win against Norway. Montenegro are making their play-off debut having showed great character to bounce back from successive reverses against Albania and Wales to snatch a last-gasp draw with England, having trailed Fabio Capello’s side 2-0
Bosnia and Herzegovina have participated in just one previous play-off, having got that far in qualification for the 2010 World Cup. Portugal will hope that recent experience serves them well as they prepare to engage in a second successive play-off.
UEFA President Michel Platini has visited on Wednesday the four host cities in Poland and met the Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk. Poland are co-hosting next summer’s event with Ukraine between 8 June and 1 July.
Mr Platini thanked the Polish government and said he was very satisfied with the preparations in Poland. “Not only the stadiums but the whole infrastructure – roads, airports, train stations, which will be very useful for the people in Poland and Ukraine after UEFA EURO 2012. Today I would like to thank the Prime Minister for the government’s efforts. Everything is going well and we are looking forward to welcoming all visitors next year for a great celebration.