Scotland have learned their EURO 2016 qualifying campaign fate this morning in Nyon, Switzerland.
Gordon Strachan’s side, who were drawn out of Pot four, have been drawn against group favourites Germany, Poland – who Scotland face in an international friendly on March 5th – Martin O’Neill & Roy Keane’s Republic of Ireland, Georgia and European Championship debutants Gibraltar.
Speaking after the draw to Sky Sports, Strachan said: “It is exciting. There are some groups you might call mundane but we’re definitely in an exciting group that should excite everybody.
“The two people I walked into the room with were Martin and Roy for the draw, and I just seen them just now and they’re excited as well.
“We’re excited but we’re competitive as well. We’re all smiling just now but we know fine well that the gloves will come off.
“We’ve got a hard group. And I think the teams in our group will be saying ‘this is going to be hard’ and you never know how it’s going to fluctuate over the next couple of years – the form of a team, the form of individual players, the injuries, so it’s very hard to predict at this moment.
“If we can keep all of our players fit then we’ll have a chance and the Republic, Poland will be thinking the same, Georgia will be thinking the same.
“This is a real good level that the players have got to play at. I think if we play to the level we can play, and where we want to go to, we can definitely qualify.”
The top two nations in each group will qualify for a place at EURO 2016, with the best third placed side also qualifying.
The other eight nations in third place go into the play-offs to try to secure a spot in the tournament held in France.
The qualifiers will run from 7th September 2014 to 13th October 2015, with the playoffs held over two legs in November 2015.
Scotland’s first game will be away to Germany on 7th September 2014, Scotland will then play host to Georgia on 11th October before travelling to Poland three days later.
On the 14th November, Scotland welcome the Republic of Ireland to Glasgow. Gibraltar will travel to Scotland for the first game between the two sides ever on 29th March, before Scotland travel to Dublin to play the Republic of Ireland on 13th June 2015.
Scotland will face a tough journey to play Georgia on 4th September 2015, before home ties against Germany and Poland on 7th September and 8th October respectively. Scotland’s final game will be against group minnows Gibraltar away on 11th October 2015.
The draw for the main tournament, which Scotland hope to be part of after 17 years away from a major tournament [by that time], will be held on 12th December 2015 with the finals kicking off in France on 10th June 2016.
The play-offs will be held over two legs in November, with the draw for the main tournament being held on 12 December 2015, with the finals themselves in France on 10 June 2016.
Euro 2016 qualifying draw in full:
Group A: Netherlands, Czech Republic, Turkey, Latvia, Iceland, Kazakhstan.
Group B: Bosnia-Hercegovina, Belgium, Israel, Wales, Cyprus, Andorra.
Group C: Spain, Ukraine, Slovakia, Belarus, FYR Macedonia, Luxembourg.
Group D: Germany, Republic of Ireland, Poland, Scotland, Georgia, Gibraltar.
Group E: England, Switzerland, Slovenia, Estonia, Lithuania, San Marino.
Group F: Greece, Hungary, Romania, Finland, Northern Ireland, Faroe Islands.
Group G: Russia, Sweden, Austria, Montenegro, Moldova, Liechtenstein.
Group H: Italy, Croatia, Norway, Bulgaria, Azerbaijan, Malta.
Group I: Portugal, Denmark, Serbia, Armenia, Albania.