Euro 2012 chief: Ukraine will surprise the world

Euro 2012 moves a huge step closer on Friday when the draw for the finals is held at Kiev's Palace of the Arts with Ukraine tournament director Markiyan Lubkivskyi promising his country is ready to surprise the world.

The road from Cardiff on April 18, 2007, when UEFA awarded the finals to co-hosts Ukraine and Poland, has been a long and arduous one.

Michel Platini, president of European football's ruling body UEFA, issued an ultimatum to Ukraine as recently as March last year, saying: "If the stadium in Kiev is not finished then we will not go there and if there is no Kiev there is no Ukraine".

The stadium in Kiev, and others in Lviv, Donetsk and Kharkiv, are all ready now, as well as all four Polish venues in Warsaw, Wroclaw, Poznan and Gdansk, and everything is set for the gala draw.

In an interview with Reuters TV, Lubkivskyi said: "I am absolutely confident we will surprise - with our hospitality and organisation - the whole world, European visitors and first of all we will surprise ourselves".

Sixteen teams will be drawn into four groups of four with champions Spain, Netherlands, Poland and Ukraine the top seeds.

The second pot comprises Germany, Italy, England and Russia. Pot three consists of Croatia, Greece, Portugal and Sweden with Denmark, France, Ireland and Czech Republic in the final section.

Lubkivskyi said Ukraine had gone through many obstacles to make sure the draw went ahead as planned in the capital.

"Our task was a double task or even a triple task. We had to overcome a lot of problems in terms of infrastructure, development, roads construction," he explained.

Some problems still remained, said Lubkivskyi, including a lack of hotels in Donetsk.

"This [tournament] project is not a sports project, for me it is mostly a geo-political one," he added. "For me, post the Euros, Ukraine will meet a lot of European criteria."

The competition begins in Warsaw on June 8 with the final in Kiev on July 1.