EURO2016LOGOIsrael’s hopes of qualifying for a first ever European Championships were handed a boost on Sunday morning after they were handed a favourable draw for the 2016 qualifiers.

Eli Guttman’s team were drawn in Group B, where they will face Bosnia-Herzegovina, Belgium, Wales, Cyprus and Andorra.

Speaking after the draw, Guttman said: “We will be one of the big contenders of this group. I was smiling and satisfied at one stage but then we got Belgium; I was very happy until they came on to the scene. It will be a very tight and equal competition; we will have to be at our best and more besides. We are going to fight over this and there will be no easy games.

“We will go for it in this campaign, and given we didn’t end up in a group with Portugal I’m fine. We don’t have Germany, Italy or the Netherlands; they’re all one level above us. The most important thing is that our guys use all the strength they have with the country behind them, even though we haven’t qualified for a significant tournament since 1970.”

Captain Yossi Benayoun said: “This is a tough draw with many good teams, even though I have already heard people underestimating Bosnia. Belgium is a rising power and is certainly one of the better teams in Europe. Wales is also a very strong side and four teams have a good chance of qualifying.

“We must believe we can do it.”

Each side play each other home and away, with the top-two qualifying for the tournament. The best third-placed finisher also qualifies, with the remaining eight third-placed teams going into the play-offs which will be played in November 2015.

The qualification period runs between 7 September 2014 until 13 October 2015.

ISRAEL’S GROUP B FIXTURES LIST:

Tuesday 9 September 2014 – Belgium (h)

Friday 10 October 2014 – Cyprus (a)

Monday 13 October 2014 – Andorra (a)

Sunday 16 November 2014 – Bosnia Herzegovina (h)

Saturday 28 March 2015 – Wales (h)

Friday 12 June 2015 – Bosnia Herzegovina (a)

Thursday 3 September 2015 – Andorra (h)

Sunday 6 September 2015 – Wales (a)

Saturday 10 October 2015 – Cyprus (h)

Tuesday 13 October 2015 – Belgium (a)