Dec 5 (Reuters) - Ireland factbox before the draw for the Euro 2016 finals in Paris on Dec. 12:
Seeding Pot for the draw:
How they Qualified:
Ireland finished third in Group D behind Germany and Poland, beating Bosnia 3-1 on aggregate in a playoff to qualify. Unbeaten at home with the best defensive record in the group, Ireland still struggled early on and prevailed only after Scotland slipped up and the Irish recorded a shock 1-0 win over world champions Germany.
Coach Martin O‘Neill:
O‘Neill, 63, won the European Cup twice with Nottingham Forest as a player and had a dominant spell as Celtic manager (2000-2005) between stints in the English Premier League with Leicester City, Aston Villa and Sunderland.
Alongside assistant manager Roy Keane, the Northern Irishman was recruited to international soccer for the first time at considerable expense and with great expectations. Without players of Keane’s class when the former Manchester United midfielder captained the side over a decade ago, the duo have moulded a stubborn and well organised side.
As soon as they qualified, Ireland’s players spoke of wanting to put right what went wrong four years ago when their first major championship in a decade ended in three heavy defeats and just one goal for their large group of travelling fans to celebrate.
Assuming they do not get as a tough a draw as Euro 2012 when they had to face Spain, Italy and Croatia, Ireland will bid to reach the knockout stages at a European Championship for the first time, admittedly an easier task than in 1988 when they almost made the semi-finals in the then eight-team format.
Ireland qualified for a major championship for the first time in 1988 when they beat England, drew with the Soviet Union and were denied a place in the last four after a late loss to the Netherlands. Their second appearance at the finals four years ago was far less memorable.
1988 group stages; 2012 group stages.
William Hill odds to win Euro 2016:
80/1 (Compiled by Padraic Halpin in Dublin, editing by Ed Osmond)