Ireland Plays Estonia in Playoffs for Soccer’s Euro 2012

Ireland will play Estonia and Portugal will face Bosnia-Herzegovina in the playoffs for the 2012 European soccer championships.

Turkey meets Croatia and the Czech Republic plays Montenegro as determined by today’s draw in Krakow, Poland. The two-game playoffs between teams which finished second in their qualifying groups open Nov. 11 and 12, with the return matches Nov. 15. Turkey, Estonia, the Czech Republic and Bosnia-Herzegovina will host the first games.

“It is extremely positive for Ireland that we will play the first leg away,” Ireland coach Giovanni Trapattoni said in a statement. “We should not underestimate our opposition, or any team, including Estonia, to have made it through to the playoffs. They must have quality.”

Estonia has never reached a major tournament. It overcame a five-match losing streak earlier this year to gain a playoff spot when Serbia lost its final qualifying match to Slovenia.

Ireland has appeared in five previous international playoffs with just one victory. It lost a playoff to France for the 2010 World Cup following a controversial handball by Thierry Henry.

“You’ve got to be quietly confident,” former Ireland striker John Aldridge told Sky Sports. “At the end of the day, it’s the draw everyone wanted.”

Portugal and Bosnia-Herzegovina both finished second in their group after coming up short in showdowns with top qualifiers two days ago. Portugal lost 2-1 to Denmark and Bosnia drew 1-1 in France to leave both in second place.

“We had no luck with the French, maybe the Portuguese can be our ticket to Euro 2012,” Edin Dzeko, who scored Bosnia’s goal against France, said on the Euro 2012 website.

‘No Luck’

The two met in a playoff for the 2010 World Cup with the Portuguese posting a pair of 1-0 victories.

The Czech Republic overtook Scotland for second place in Group I behind European and World Cup champion Spain on the final day of qualifying. Montenegro has never played in a major championship.

Turkey will be in its fifth playoff while Croatia won its only other playoff, for a place at the 1998 World Cup. Turkey defeated Croatia in the quarterfinals at Euro 2008.

The four playoff winners will join co-hosts Poland and Ukraine, Denmark, England, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, Russia, Spain and Sweden in the 16-team field.

The Euro 2012 draw will take place Dec. 2 in Kiev, with the tournament being played June 8 to July 1, 2012.

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