Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 30 September 2014

Trapattoni still has Italian job in mind for Republic

Giovanni Trapattoni has told his Irish players to concentrate on securing second place in their World Cup qualifying group before thinking about toppling favourites Italy.

Ireland took four points from their opening double header with Georgia and Montenegro, and there is now optimism in the camp that qualification for South Africa is possible.

The winners of Group Eight will make it there automatically, while the second placed team would enter a playoff with a runner up from another group.

Trapattoni believes that — for the moment — his players need to focus on that minimum requirement and ensure they finish ahead of Bulgaria, Cyprus, Montenegro and Georgia.

Ireland now have a run of home games against Cyprus in October, Georgia in February and Bulgaria next March before their first meeting with Italy on April 1st.

"At the moment, we cannot look to Italy, we have to look to Bulgaria, Cyprus, Georgia.

"For now, we can wish Italy wins every game. I wish them well now, so we can get ahead of the others. From the next three games for us, I think to win all of them would be a dream. Maybe with the group, seven points would be enough.

"But then the games are at home and maybe it's possible to look to win all these games and then have many points before we go to Italy.

"It's important that we have the same squad of players fit. We cannot have too many changes."

Trapattoni was in positive mood before he headed back to Italy yesterday morning, after arriving back in Dublin in the early hours of Wednesday night.

He further explained his rationale for making no substitutions in Podgorica, explaining that he felt the situation was too tight.

In his head, he had three possible changes worked out, the first of which involved Andy Reid replacing either Robbie Keane or Kevin Doyle.

However, he felt that one less body up front might result in the loss of possession there, thus pushing Ireland back deeper into their own half.

Similarly, he also decided against introducing Daryl Murphy instead of Doyle, whose workrate troubled the Montenegrin rearguard.

Trapattoni also put goalkeeper Shay Given on a par with Italian superstar Gianluigi Buffon after witnessing his heroics in Montenegro.

He said: "I have seen many, many games in the past and I know Shay's quality.

"I (Trapattoni's team) played against Newcastle with Stuttgart and I know he is a very, very good goalkeeper.

"Last night, when the ball was deflected, I saw it going towards the post and I thought it was a goal. But Shay saved it and for me, he is one of the best in Europe, the same as Buffon.

"He has a very, very good personality and he commands the team, but quietly. We have a saying in Italy that once you praise somebody to much, you have to touch wood, but his performance last night was very good."

Trapattoni may speak to FIFA about future referee appointments, after being unhappy with Estonian referee Sten Kaldma.

The Irish boss is looking for consistency as he does not feel that a relatively inexperienced whistler would be put in charge of a game involving Italy.

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