Michael O'Neill would be happy to draw France at Euro 2016
Published 11/12/2015 | 10:46
Northern Ireland boss Michael O'Neill says he would be delighted to draw hosts France in Saturday's Euro 2016 finals draw in Paris.
O'Neill's men start in pot four for the ceremony alongside the Republic of Ireland and Wales as they step up preparations for their first major finals appearance in 30 years.
And O'Neill conceded that while being part of the opening night against the hosts would be something special, there are other draw possibilities he would be pleased to avoid.
O'Neill said in the Guardian: "Playing France in the opening game would be a special experience.
"I suppose you would look to avoid Italy from pot two and probably an England game as well, simply because the attention around that could overshadow everything else."
Hosts France have already been guaranteed their place as the seeded team in Group A, meaning if they win the group they will face one of two third-placed teams in the next round.
Arguably the toughest group for Northern Ireland could see them placed in a group with world champions Germany, Italy and Poland.
But they would look favourably on a draw which placed them alongside Belgium, Ukraine and Hungary, whom they beat in the qualifying process.