This Sunday in Frankfurt, the Estonian men's national football team will find out who their opponents are for the upcoming Euro 2024 qualifiers. Going into the draw, head coach Thomas Häberli is more concerned with taking as many points as possible from the group, than the potential for glamorous ties against big name opponents.
"The draw can be approached from two different perspectives," said Häberli. "The first is to hope for glamorous opponents. The second is to focus on those opponents against whom we can get as many points as possible, and this is the approach we have to take. We want as many competitive but potentially beatable opponents as possible. We don't want 'beautiful defeats'. We will play to win."
"We also want to attack, not just defend. It's very difficult against the top 20 teams in the world, but it's more possible against the teams further down in the rankings. Let's keep our fingers crossed that the luck of the draw will give us the best possible opponents from every pot! We're looking forward to this draw, because the last year has made us hungry for more, " said Häberli.
Estonia go into the Euro 2024 qualifiers on the back of a successful Nations League campaign that saw the team top their League D group with a 100 percent win record from four games. As a result, the team will move up to League C for the next edition of the Nations League, which takes place in the 2024-25 season.
Häberli is looking forward to the challenge, but is under no illusions that the transition will be easy for his team.
"We're better than League D, but will that be good enough to win games in League C? We had to find our place. Where do we belong? In both 2018 and 2020, the team played in the C division, but only won one game (away from home against Greece – ed.). In football, results speak louder than words. To put it more bluntly: the level was too high at that time. The group was too strong," said Häberli.
"What is clear, is that we all want to play in League C. But these are just words, and we have to back them up with actions. In League C, the strength of the group depends a lot on the draw. Cyprus finished last in a strong group, while Kazakhstan were playing in League D at the beginning of the year (in a relegation play off against Moldova in March, which Kazakhstan won to remain in League C – ed.), and have now been promoted to League B. Someone has to go up and somebody has to go down, which is exciting for the fans and makes it competitive," said Häberli.
Editor: Michael Cole