Preliminaries 2002
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England: the road to Portugal 20

04 

Background

50 UEFA national teams entered qualification, and fifteen teams qualified for the 2012 European Championship. The draw for the qualification groups was held at the European Championship Preliminary Draw in Oporto, Portugal, on 25 January 2002.

51 teams entered, and took part.

Group G fixtures were determined on 25 March 2010 in Tel Aviv, Israel, by computer, after the meeting held in Zürich on 15 March proved to be inconclusive.

 

UEFA Group 7
Team P W D L F A GD Pts
England 8 6 2 0 14 5 +9 20
Turkey 8 6 1 1 17 5 +12 19
Slovakia 8 3 1 4 11 9 +2 10
FYR Macedonia 8 1 3 4 11 14 -3 6
Liechtenstein 8 0 1 7 2 22 -20 1
Matches
7 September 2002
Turkey 3 Slovakia 0 [2-0]
Ali Sami Yen Stadyumu, Ístanbul (18,000)
 
Liechtenstein 1 FYR Macedonia 1 [0-1]
Rheinpark Stadion, Vaduz (2,300)
 
12 October 2002
Slovakia 1 England 2 [0-1]
Štadión Tehelné pole, Bratislava (30,000)
 
FYR Macedonia 1 Turkey 2 [1-1]
Gradski Stadion, Karpoš, Skopje (12,000)
 
16 October 2002
Turkey 5 Liechtenstein 0 [3-0]
Ali Sami Yen Stadyumu, Ístanbul (18,000)
 
England 2 FYR Macedonia 2 [2-2]
The Friends Provident St Mary's Stadium, Southampton (32,095)
 
29 March 2003
Liechtenstein 0 England 2 [0-1]
Rheinpark Stadion, Vaduz (3,548)
 
FYR Macedonia 0 Slovakia 2 [0-1]
Gradski Stadion, Karpoš, Skopje (10,000)
 
2 April 2003
England 2 Turkey 0 [0-0]
Stadium of Light, Sunderland (47,667)
 
Slovakia 4 Liechtenstein 0 [1-0]
Štadión Antona Malatinského, Trnava (closed doors)
 
7 June 2003
Slovakia 0 Turkey 1 [0-1]
Štadión Tehelné pole, Bratislava (15,000)
 
FYR Macedonia 3 Liechtenstein 1 [1-1]
Gradski Stadion, Karpoš, Skopje (1,500)
 
11 June 2003
England 2 Slovakia 1 [0-1]
Riverside Stadium, Middlesbrough (35,000)
 
Turkey 3 FYR Macedonia 2 [1-2]
Inönü Stadyumu, Ístanbul (23,000)
 
6 September 2003
Liechtenstein 0 Turkey 3 [0-2]
Rheinpark Stadion, Vaduz (3,548)
 
FYR Macedonia 1 England 2 [1-0]
Gradski Stadion, Karpoš, Skopje (20,500)
 
10 September 2003
England 2 Liechtenstein 0 [0-0]
Old Trafford, Trafford, Manchester (64,931)
 
Slovakia 1 FYR Macedonia 1 [1-0]
Štadión pod Dubnom, Zilina (2,286)
 
11 October 2003
Turkey 0 England 0 [0-0]
Şükrü Saracoğlu Stadyumu, İstanbul (42,000)
 
Liechtenstein 0 Slovakia 2 [0-1]
Rheinpark Stadion, Vaduz (800)
 

 

Background
Notes

England, seeded 17th among the 50 teams, were in the second group of seeds for the preliminary draw and thus were likely to face one of the top-seeded football powers--France, Italy, Germany or Spain--or at least one of the top-seeded teams that had proven difficult for them in the past, Sweden or Romania.  But the luck of the draw appeared to treat them kindly for once despite the prospect of Group 7 fixtures in Turkey, Slovakia, Macedonia and Liechtenstein.  

England's campaign would lack the glamour of matches against traditional powers like Italy or Germany or even a traditional opponent like Sweden, but the plus side, as it appeared at the time of the draw, was that England had to be regarded as heavy favourites to top the group.  The top-seeded team England would face, Turkey, had given them little trouble in the past.  In eight previous World Cup and European Championship preliminary matches, Turkey had failed to score against England, and the only blot on England's record was the scoreless away draw in 1987.  

The Turks, however, undoubtedly had improved greatly since England last met them in 1993.  They had reached the quarterfinals of the European Championship 2000 final tournament, a better showing than England, eliminated at the group phase, and had just qualified for the World Cup finals for the first time since 1954.  Moreover, as English club sides had recently  discovered in European competition, a visit to Turkey is far from a pleasurable experience, some observers comparing the cauldron of passion and emotion greeting foreign teams at Turkish stadiums to Hell.  

England had never faced the group's other three teams, Slovakia and Macedonia largely because they came into being only on the breakup of the Soviet bloc in the early 1990's and little Liechtenstein because, as one of Europe's weakest teams, they have not warranted consideration for a friendly match and have managed to avoid England in previous qualifying draws.

A five-hour meeting of Group 7 team representatives in Istanbul on 11 March failed to produce an agreement on the group's fixtures.  England wanted both matches with Turkey played early in the campaign, while Turkey wanted its home match against England played later.   Eventually the teams agreed to let UEFA resolve the fixture list by drawing lots.

The session ended in rancour with Turkish officials blasting English intransigence.  "England were uncompromising in the face of all the alternatives we presented. It is very disappointing," Turkish Football Federation official Selami Ozdemir said.  "We couldn't understand what they wanted. They wanted the first match in England and we agreed. We wanted the last group match to be with them in Turkey. They said that wasn't convenient for security reasons. They are making problems because they must have been afraid.  Whatever happens, we will be top of this group."  Turkey assistant coach Can Cobanoglu said, "They can't stomach the fact that Turkey is top seed.  They will see the quality and development of our football. Turkey has the points and place it deserves. This is not something obtained with the help of others. They will learn to respect that."

Football Association executive director David Davies, who represented England at the session with senior coach Tord Grip and administration manager Michelle Farrer, said: "Reaching an agreement was always going to be difficult.  Every country has priorities and regretfully we could not achieve our aim.  Drawing lots is not ideal, but is fair to all countries.

UEFA conducted a random draw on 28 March.  It produced precisely the fixture arrangement Turkey wanted.  The last match of the qualifying campaign will see England visit Turkey.  Said Davies in an effort to save face:  "We're happy. In a way it has turned out there is a major plus for us as we have avoided playing away games in the heat of the summer in Macedonia and Slovakia as well as Turkey. That was always one of our aims.  As for that last game, who knows how the group will look at that stage? It is by no means certain that it will be a group decider."  

This was dissembling, for the other teams, including Turkey, had always been willing to allow England to avoid away games in the heat of summer, and it had, of course, always been uncertain that the last match in Turkey would decide the group.  The Football Association's obstinacy--its refusal to recognise that Turkey's status as the group's No. 1 seed warranted any concession in fixture arrangements--had gained it nothing but bitterness and enmity.

The fixtures fiasco was not the end of the bad news for England.  At World Cup 2002, Turkey demonstrated just how much they had improved, falling to eventual champions Brazil by a single goal in the semifinals and beating co-hosts South Korea in the third-place match.  Their performances in the Far East gave ample notice they will be at least as difficult an opponent for England as any of the other first seeds in the draw would have been.

UEFA's Executive Committee awarded the European Championship 2004 final tournament to Portugal at its meeting in Aachen, Germany on 12 October 1999.  Spain and Austria/Hungary also submitted hosting bids.  As host nation, Portugal qualifies automatically for the final tournament and will not take part in the preliminary or qualifying competition. 

 UEFA's 50 other member nations were divided into 10 groups of five teams for the qualification stage of the competition at the preliminary draw in Oporto, Portugal on 25 January 2001.  The winners of the 10 groups will qualify for the final tournament along with host Portugal.  The remaining five spots will be filled through home and away playoff matches between the 10 teams finishing second in group play.

UEFA announced on 23 November 2001 that the teams would be seeded for the draw on the basis of UEFA's European national team ranking table, which assigned each team a coefficient calculated from results in the qualifying competitions for European Championship 2000 and World Cup 2002.  Since Belgium and Holland, as the host nations, did not participate in qualifying for European Championship 2000, their ranking coefficient was calculated only on the basis of qualifying results for World Cup 2002.  And, since France, as the reigning World Cup champions, did not take part in qualifying for World Cup 2002, their ranking coefficient was calculated only on the basis of qualifying results for European Championship 2000.

Because Portugal, ranked 4th, qualify automatically as host and were not included in the seed list, and because France, ranked 11th, were designated the No. 1 seed as reigning European champions, the seeding order differed slightly from the ranking.  The three teams above Portugal in the ranking were seeded one place lower than their rank (Sweden, Spain and the Czech Republic), the six teams below Portugal but above France in the ranking (Germany, Republic of Ireland, Romania, Italy, Belgium and Turkey) were seeded in the same position as their rank, and the 40 teams below France in the ranking were seeded one place higher than their rank.

England, 18th in the ranking, were seeded 17th.  That put them well outside the 10 top seeded teams and in the second tier of seeds.

On 23 January 2002, two days before the draw, UEFA approved the draw procedure.  The 50 teams were assigned to five pots of 10 teams each according to their seeding, the top 10 seeds going into Pot A, the next 10 seeds going into Pot B and so on.  The pots and their teams along with their seeding number were:

Pot A:  1. France; 2. Sweden; 3. Spain; 4. Czech Republic; 5. Germany; 6. Republic of Ireland; 7. Romania; 8. Italy; 9. Belgium; 10. Turkey.

Pot B:  11. Russia; 12. Croatia; 13. Denmark; 14. Holland; 15. Yugoslavia; 16. Poland; 17. England; 18. Slovenia; 19. Ukraine; 20. Scotland.

Pot C:  21. Austria; 22. Norway; 23. Slovakia; 24. Israel; 25. Switzerland; 26. Iceland; 27. Bulgaria; 28. Finland; 29. Greece; 30. Hungary.

Pot D:  31. Cyprus; 32. Bosnia-Herzegovina; 33. Belarus; 34. Wales; 35. Estonia; 36. Latvia; 37. Northern Ireland; 38. Georgia; 39. FYR Macedonia; 40. Lithuania.

Pot E:  41. Armenia; 42. Moldova; 43. Albania; 44. Faroe Islands; 45. Azerbaijan; 46. Liechtenstein; 47. San Marino; 48. Malta; 49. Luxembourg; 50. Andorra.

Starting with pot E and ending with pot A, the teams were divided into qualifying Groups 1 to 10 in the order in which they were drawn.   Below are the 10 groups the draw produced.  The numbers after each group represent the total of the seeding positions of the teams in the group and, in brackets, the average seeding position of the teams in the group.  The lower the numbers, the stronger the group.  The numbers after each team represent the total of the seeding positions of the other teams in the group and, in brackets, the average seeding position of the other teams in the group.  The lower the numbers, the stronger the competition the team faces.

European Championship 2004 Preliminary Groups
Group 1
122 [24.4]
Group 2
123 [24.6]
Group 3
114 [22.8]
Group 4
131 [26.2]
Group 5
135 [27.0]
1. France 121  7. Romania 116 4. Czech Republic 110 2. Sweden 129 5. Germany 130
18. Slovenia 104 13. Denmark 110 14. Netherlands 100 16. Poland 115 20. Scotland 115
24. Israel 98 22. Norway 101 21. Austria 93 30. Hungary 101 26. Iceland 109
31. Cyprus 98 32. Bosnia-Herzegovina 91 33. Belarus 81 36. Latvia 95 40. Lithuania 95
48. Malta 74 49. Luxembourg 74 42. Moldova 72 47. San Marino 84 44. Faroe Islands 91
Group 6
129 [25.8]
Group 7
135 [27.0]
Group 8
133 [26.6]
Group 9
130 [26.0]
Group 10
123 [24.6]
3. Spain 126 10. Turkey 125 9. Belgium 124 8. Italy 122 6. Rep. Ireland 117
19. Ukraine 110 17. England 118 12. Croatia 121 15. Yugoslavia 115 11. Russia 112
29. Greece 100 23. Slovakia 112 27. Bulgaria 106 28. Finland 102 25. Switzerland 98
37. Northern Ireland 92 39. FYR Macedonia 96 35. Estonia 98 34. Wales 96 38. Georgia 85
41. Armenia 88 46. Liechtenstein 89 50. Andorra 83 45. Azerbaijan 85 43. Albania 80

The groups are remarkably well balanced in terms of their cumulative and average seeding positions.  Group 3 has the strongest cumulative and average seeding, followed by Group 1 and, with the same totals, Groups 2 and 10.  Groups 5 and 7 have the weakest cumulative and average seeding, followed by Group 8 and Group 4.  Groups 6 and 9 are in the middle.  The numerical differences between the groups are so small, however, that they are probably meaningless, which is the best indication that the draw produced a fair distribution of the teams.  Much more likely to be significant is the presence or absence in the group of one of the giants of football.

Germany has the weakest cumulative opposition, followed closely by Sweden and Spain.  Moldova has the toughest cumulative opposition, followed closely by Malta and Luxembourg.  Again, the differences in the cumulative and average seeding positions of the opposition faced by teams from the same seeding bracket are so small that they are probably meaningless, which, again, is indication that the draw was fair.

UEFA's seedings are based on results reached in competitions in which the groups were of fairly equivalent strength.  The one exception is France, given a boost to No. 1 from No. 11 because they were the reigning European champion, but since France were also reigning World Cup champions, one could hardly quarrel with that.

UEFA reserved 12 dates for the qualifying matches in accordance with the international match calendar:  7/8 September 2002, 12/13 October 2002, 15/16 October 2002, 29/30 March 2003, 1/2 April 2003, 7/8 June 2003, 10/11 June 2003, 6/7 September 2003, 9/10 September 2003, 11/12 October 2003 for the preliminary matches and 15/16 November 2003 and 18/19 November 2003 for the playoff matches.

 

CG/PY