Trapattoni: I wanted to avoid Italy
Giovanni Trapattoni wants to ensure Ireland maintain an interest in Euro 2012 ahead of an emotional meeting with Italy on June 18.
Trapattoni admitted before Friday night's draw he did not want to play the team he managed at the 2002 World Cup and European Championships in Portugal two years later. But now he knows he will, in Poznan - the final game in a group that opens with a clash against Croatia before a trip to Gdansk on June 14 for a meeting with holders and world champions Spain.
"I wanted to avoid Italy because they are strong mentally and because we know each other. We knew we had to face strong opponents and I hope we don't do ourselves harm and that we get to June 18 in a calm way," said Trapattoni.
Meeting Italy will not be a new experience. Ireland managed two draws against them in qualification for the 2010 World Cup, deprived of a win at Croke Park by Alberto Gilardino's effort two minutes from time.
And in June this year, Keith Andrews and Simon Cox scored when an experimental team recorded a surprise 2-0 win in Liege. There is also the little matter of that game in New York, when Ray Houghton scored the only goal to give Ireland one of the greatest nights in their entire history at USA '94.
"I must convince my players it will be another game," said Trapattoni. "They may prepare better."
Unlike Fabio Capello, Trapattoni has already signed a two-year contract extension, so regardless of the outcome, he will be staying on. However, beneath the kindly exterior beats the heart of a fierce competitor. And there is no way he will timidly accept failure.
"I have done this job all over the world in different countries; Italy, Germany, Austria, Portugal, now with Ireland," he said.
"I really love my job and it will give me huge satisfaction to take Ireland to a Finals. It shows that when you are really well organised and have real self-belief you can do it, even with smaller countries.
"Everybody on the Irish team is looking forward to bringing our football and our style to the tournament. For me it is not about what I have done in the past, and I have done a lot, but about what the future will bring."