Nations League draw: 'If Stephen Kenny was watching back home he will be very happy'

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Brian Adam
Professional Blogger, V logger, traveler and explorer of new horizons.

The Republic of Ireland have once again been drawn with Wales in the UEFA Nations League.

Republic of Ireland manager Mick McCarthy during the UEFA Nations League 2020/21 draw at the Beurs van Berlage Conference Centre, Amsterdam. Photo: Adam Davy/PA

The sides met in that first competition too, with Ryan Gggs’ side winning both encounters.

The other sides in Group B4 are first-time Euro finalists Finland and Bulgaria, with Stephen Kenny set to be in charge when the competition gets underway in September.

“That draw was as good as we could have got. If Stephen Kenny was watching back home he will be very happy,” said current Republic of Ireland manager Mick McCarthy after the draw.

“When I see the Russia, Serbia, Turkey, Hungary group, we could have been in there.

“Wales are the stand-out side and they had a great 2016 European Championships and they’re already looking forward to this summer’s finals.

“We’ve played Bulgaria and beaten them recently and that experience will be good for any of my players if they come up against them in the Nations League. I don’t know a lot about Finland but I’m sure the players will look forward to playing them in the group.

“The Nations League is a good tournament. I enjoyed the games the first time around and the competitive nature of them – it’s so much better than friendlies.”

Scotland, who are due to take on Israel in a Euro 2020 qualification play-off later this month, will also face them in the 2020-21 Nations League.

Steve Clarke’s men will also face the Czech Republic and Slovakia in Group B2.

Northern Ireland were drawn in Group B1 alongside Austria, Norway and Romania.

England will take on Belgium, Denmark and Iceland in Group A2.

They faced Roberto Martinez’s Belgium side twice at the 2018 World Cup, once at the end of the group phase and again in the third-place play-off, losing on both occasions.

They are due to face the Danes in a friendly later this month, coronavirus-permitting, while they famously lost to Iceland in Nice at Euro 2016.

France and Croatia, who met in the 2018 World Cup final, were paired together in Group A3 while Spain and Germany go head to head in A4.

The group matches will be played between September and November this year.

The group winners from League A will contest the Nations League finals in June 2021, with one of them being selected to host it.

The competition also provides a back door to qualification for the 2022 World Cup.

The two highest-ranked Nations League group winners who do not either win their World Cup qualifying group or finish as runners-up will enter a 12-team play-off to secure the final three European places at the finals in Qatar.

LEAGUE A

Group A1: Poland, Bosnia, Italy, Netherlands

Group A2: Iceland, Denmark, Belgium, England

Group A3: Croatia, Sweden, France, Portugal

Group A4: Germany, Ukraine, Spain, Switzerland

LEAGUE B

Group B1: Romania, Northern Ireland, Norway, Austria

Group B2: Israel, Slovakia, Scotland, Czech Republic

Group B3: Hungary, Turkey, Serbia, Russia

Group B4: Bulgaria, Republic of Ireland, Finland, Wales

LEAGUE C

Group C1: Azerbaijan, Luxembourg, Cyprus, Montenegro

Group C2: Armenia, Estonia, North Macedonia, Georgia

Group C3: Moldova, Slovenia, Kosovo, Greece

Group C4: Kazakhstan, Lithuania, Belarus, Albania

LEAGUE D

Group D1: Malta, Andorra, Latvia, Faroe Islands

Group D2: San Marino, Liechtenstein, Gibraltar

– Updated with quotes at 7.15pm.

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