Italy to face Sweden in World Cup playoff

Italy to face Sweden in World Cup playoff

PARIS – Agence France-Presse
Italy to face Sweden in World Cup playoff

Four-time winner Italy will play Sweden in a playoff for a place in the 2018 World Cup while the Republic of Ireland takes on Denmark, following Oct. 17's draw.

Northern Ireland will take on Switzerland and Croatia will tackle Greece in the other two-legged Europe zone playoffs to be played between Nov. 9 and Nov. 14.

Italy and veteran goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon, who were seeded for the draw in Zurich, will travel to Sweden for the first leg of their tie.

Sweden coach Janne Andersson told Sky Sports News: "It's two tough games but it would have been the same with other countries.

"I'm happy we know now. Now we can start work."

The Italians were condemned to the playoffs after finishing runners-up to Spain in their qualifying group.

Northern Ireland coach Michael O'Neill admitted he faced a tough task against the Swiss as he bids to steer his country to the finals for the first time since 1986.

The Northern Irish will play at home in the first leg.

"Switzerland had a great campaign though their group was one of the easiest. Our job is to make their life as difficult as possible," he said at the draw in Zurich.

"Having played Germany twice in the group it will set us up nicely for the match," O'Neill said.

"Our aim is to take a lead to Switzerland and we had seven clean sheets in our qualifiers so we need a tight five when we go there."