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scotland showdown Stephen Kenny reacts to Ireland's challenging Nations League draw

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Special guest Robert Pirès draws out Ireland during the UEFA Nations League 2022/23 League Phase draw at the UEFA headquarters in Nyon, Switzerland. Photo by Richard Juilliart / UEFA via Sportsfile

Special guest Robert Pirès draws out Ireland during the UEFA Nations League 2022/23 League Phase draw at the UEFA headquarters in Nyon, Switzerland. Photo by Richard Juilliart / UEFA via Sportsfile

Special guest Robert Pirès draws out Ireland during the UEFA Nations League 2022/23 League Phase draw at the UEFA headquarters in Nyon, Switzerland. Photo by Richard Juilliart / UEFA via Sportsfile

Ireland will have to get the better of old foes Scotland, and also triumph in a first-ever meeting with Ukraine, if they are to fulfill Stephen Kenny's ambition of winning their group in the Nations League after the two countries were drawn together in the group for the Nations League.

The draw at UEFA HQ in Switzerland placed Ireland in the same group as Ukraine, Scotland and Armenia, in Group 1 of League B in the Nations League group phase, those games to be played next June and September, before the start of the Euro 2024 qualifiers.

Ireland have never played Ukraine, 25th in the world according to the FIFA rankings, at senior level, so a test in Kyiv will be a journey into the unknown for Kenny and his squad.

Ireland have a perfect record against Armenia at senior level, two games and two wins, from the Euro 2012 qualifiers. Armenia are ranked 92nd in the FIFA world rankings.

But Scotland, ranked 38th in the world, are a side well known to the Republic, 11 meetings at senior level. The two nations last met in the Euro 2016 qualifiers, a defeat for Ireland in Scotland with the only goal from Shaun Maloney and a 1-1 draw in Dublin.

The Republic are yet to win a game in the Nations League after 10 games in the tournament.

"My first impression is that it is a really competitive group," Kenny told FAI.ie.

"Ukraine got to the quarter-finals of the EUROS, Scotland have won their last six matches and Armenia have really improved, finishing ahead of Iceland recently in their World Cup qualifying group.

"All of the teams are capable of taking points off each other so it is very exciting from our point of view.

"Obviously, we're third seeds in the group so not many people would expect us to win the group but that will certainly be our ambition."

League B looks like this:

Group B1: Ukraine, Scotland, Ireland, Armenia

Group B2: Iceland, Russia, Israel Albania

Group B3: Bosnia and Herzegovina, Finland, Romania, Montenegro

Group B4: Sweden, Norway, Serbia, Slovenia

In a mouth-watering League A group, England have been paired with Italy, Germany and Hungary.

The Groups from League A are:

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Group A1: France, Denmark, Croatia, Austria

Group A2: Spain, Portugal, Switzerland, Czech Republic

Group A3: Italy, Germany, England, Hungary

Group A4: Belgium, Netherlands, Poland, Wales

The League C groups are as follow...

Group C1: Turkey, Luxembourg, Lithuania, Faroe Islands

Group C2: Northern Ireland, Greece, Kosovo, winner of Cyprus/Estonia

Group C3: Slovakia, Belarus, Azerbaijan, winner of Kazakhstan/Moldova

Group C4: Bulgaria, North Macedonia, Georgia, Gibraltar

The League D groups are as follow...

Group D1: Liechtenstein, loser of Kazakhstan/Moldova, Latvia, Andorra

Group D2: Malta, loser of Cyprus/Estonia, San Marino

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So when will the matches actually happen?

All group fixtures will be held in June and September 2022. The four group winners in League A will progress to the finals in June 2023. The group winners from the other three leagues will be promoted for the 2024/25 season. Teams finishing fourth in the groups in Leagues A and B will be relegated.

Will they be televised?

Ireland’s matches will be shown live on RTE & Sky Sports.


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