Toshack undaunted by threat of 'tough' opposition

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The Independent Online

Wales have been pitted against last year's World Cup semi-finalists Germany in Group Four but their coach, John Toshack, was optimistic in the face of a daunting task.

They also face Russia – the other side who qualified for Euro 2008 ahead of England – as well as Finland, Azerbaijan and Liechtenstein. The Welsh are familiar with Finland, having faced them in Euro 2004 qualifying.

"We are playing Germany again but better the devil you know - we know what we are up against," Toshack said. "Hopefully 10 months down the line our youngsters will have come on. We have won in Bulgaria, won in Slovakia, drawn in Germany - all sides ranked higher than us."

Toshack's assistant, Roy Evans, was a touch more circumspect, saying: "It's not the greatest draw. Germany are probably the best team in Europe, albeit we had a good result against them last time out. And with Russia following them they are probably the two favourites to qualify."

Toshack's side drew with Germany in Frankfurt last week in their final European Championship qualifier, having lost 2-0 at home.

They also have recent memories of Russia, who denied them a chance of qualifying for Euro 2004. Russia faced Wales in a play-off, and, after a draw in Moscow, Russia won 1-0 in Cardiff. The midfielder, Egor Titov, though, failed a drug test after the first leg and the Welsh asked Uefa to throw Russia out. But the appeal was quashed.

Group Four

* GERMANY Teams will need no introduction after recent Euro meetings.

* RUSSIA Helped stop England reaching Euro '08.

* FINLAND Obdurate team who boast a number of British-based players.

* AZERBAIJAN Toshack won't relish a difficult trip to the Middle East.

* LIECHTENSTEIN Slowly improving side that battles.

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