Belfast Telegraph

FAI secure venue change for Georgia clash

Azerbaijan, Armenia and Turkey are three potential venues for Ireland's opening World Cup qualifier with Georgia after FIFA ruled that the September 6 clash should not take place in Tbilisi.

While the Georgian FA were keen for the match to go ahead, the world football governing body ruled that instability in the troubled country made such a scenario impossible.

It means that the FAI have been successful in their appeal for the game to go ahead on the scheduled date at a neutral ground, as opposed to the alternative option of postponement.

FIFA have now given the Georgians until next Tuesday to nominate a location for the game, with the neighbourly trio of countries Armenia, Turkey and Azerbaijan all floated as possibilities with a strong word for the latter.

Ukraine has also been mentioned but given the fact that a large percentage of that country's population are in support of Russia, a move there could be viewed as a volatile choice.

Irish manager Giovanni Trapattoni and captain Robbie Keane welcomed FIFA's verdict as they continued preparations for tonight's friendly meeting with Norway in Oslo.

"It's important that we do play the game as we have everything set out," said Keane. "Everyone knew it was going to go ahead somewhere but I think people will look forward to it more.

"No matter where the game is played, it's important for the group that it went ahead."

Keane will lead Ireland out here in the Ullevaal Stadium tonight, with Trapattoni naming a team last night which could play against Georgia if they impress here.

Steve Finnan, Shay Given and Kevin Kilbane return having missed the friendlies in May. Steven Reid has been given the nod to start in midfield but if he fails a fitness test this morning then Liam Miller deputises.

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph