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Israel handed tough World Cup draw

    Israel face a tough challenge to reach the 2014 World Cup finals in Brazil.

    Luis Fernandez's troops have been drawn against top seeds Portugal, Russia, Northern Ireland, Azerbaijan and Luxembourg.

    Fernandez was in Rio de Janeiro for the draw on Saturday night. He refused to comment directly on the draw, instead preferring to look ahead to the team's crunch Euro 2012 qualifiers.

    "The only thing that's really important now is our upcoming game against Greece, which will hopefully keep us in the race for Euro 2012," Fernandez said.

    "We'll have enough time to think of these games when the time comes, but right now my only hope is that the stadium will be full of noisy fans for the game against Greece."

    The managers of two of Israel's group rivals believe that they pose a threat.

    Northern Ireland manager Nigel Worthington said: "Israel are one difficult nut to crack, and there are some other strong teams, but then again, we could also have ended up with even tougher opponents."

    Azerbaijan coach Berti Vogts said: "Portugal, Russia and Israel are much better teams than us.

    "We can't qualify for the World Cup. Our only aim can be to get as many points as possible."

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