Martin O’Neill conceded he had not really enjoyed the draw for the 2016 European Championship after watching Republic of Ireland placed in arguably the toughest of the six groups.
Ireland were selected in Group E alongside Belgium, Italy and Sweden. Although Belgium are the top-ranked side in the world it was the presence of Italy, picked out of the second pot, which irritated former Sunderland and Aston Villa boss O’Neill.
“Italy really should be in pot one,” he told the BBC. “They haven’t dropped down the rankings that much so you’re talking about them, the top-ranked team in the world and Sweden. It’s very difficult. They are games to look forward to for the fans but it’s tough for us.
“I thought I was going to enjoy the draw but I am not so sure I have done.”
O’Neill will now spend the next six months attempting to plot a way through to the knockout stages.
“Now you know what you’re up against, you can take the time to study players individually,” he said. “By the time you get there you should know everything about them. It’s a maze but we’ll get down to plotting something.”
Ireland will face Sweden in their opener in Paris, the home of PSG striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
Although wary of Ibrahimovic’s quality, O’Neill denied the Swedes were a one-man side.
“No I don’t think so,” he explained. “I watched some of their games in the play-offs and they were quite strong. And Ibahimovic is a top-class player.”