Low welcomes World Cup qualifying draw

Germany coach Joachim Low declared himself pleased with the outcome of Saturday's draw in St Petersburg.

Germany coach Joachim Low cautiously welcomed the reigning champions' qualifying draw for the 2018 World Cup in Russia on Saturday.

Low's men will face Czech Republic, Northern Ireland, Norway, Azerbaijan and San Marino in Group C.

With both Italy and France included in the second group of seeds, the draw could certainly have been far tougher for the holders.

But while expressing his pleasure with the hand his side was dealt, the 55-year-old was quick to guard against complacency.

"We have an interesting group against good opponents," he said.

"And we are of course pleased with the draw. It's clear that we want to be, as a world champion, group winners and we are the favourites.

"The Czech Republic, Norway and Northern Ireland are very ambitious and have always had very good results in recent years. 

"Group A, with France, Sweden and the Netherlands and Group G, with Italy and Spain, are interesting and extremely exciting.

"However, we will now focus on the European Championship qualifiers and after the tournament and only then, comes the World Cup qualifiers for Russia."

National team manager Oliver Bierhoff, one of the assistants during the draw in St Petersburg, was also pleased with the outcome.

"I am delighted that we will not play against Italy and France," he said.

"So that we can be satisfied with. For Spain, for example, it is a very hard draw."