Kranjcar upbeat despite Montenegro draw

PODGORICA - Montenegro coach Zlatko Kranjcar was optimistic the tiny Adriatic nation would qualify for the Euro 2012 finals despite missing a chance to go top of qualifying Group G after a 1-1 home draw with Bulgaria.

The result left the Montenegrins level on 11 points from five matches with leaders England, who scraped a 2-2 draw with Switzerland at Wembley, but behind on goal difference.

Switzerland and Bulgaria are on five points each from as many games with Wales without a point from four matches.

"I think we are in a great position because we have stayed clear of Bulgaria and Switzerland while we are set to continue a neck-and-neck battle with England for the top spot," Kranjcar told Montenegrin media after the pulsating match in Podgorica.

"A win over Wales in our next match would all but secure the runners-up spot and even if we don't win the group, we have a good chance of being the best second-placed team.

The nine group winners and the best second-placed team will qualify automatically for next year's finals in Poland and Ukraine, while the eight other runners-up will enter a two-leg play-off for the remaining four berths.

Despite the positive position Montenegro find themselves in, Kranjcar was slightly disappointed.

"We are not entirely happy with the result because we had the best chances but the performance was excellent, except for some sloppy marking when Bulgaria equalised.

"England's slip-up against Switzerland, however, has played into our hands and I am confident we can go through because several injured players will be back to full fitness in September, when we resume our campaign."

Montenegro, playing in only their second major tournament as an independent nation after winning just once in the 2010 World Cup qualifiers, visit Wales on September 2.

They are at home to England on October 7 and visit Switzerland in their final match four days later.


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