Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Trapattoni has no fear of French team

Ireland boss Giovanni Trapattoni is refusing to rest on his laurels as he plots France’s World Cup downfall.

The 70-year-old Italian will lead Ireland into play-off battle with the 1998 winners, refusing to look back on all the success his distinguished career has brought him to date and concentrating only on what lies ahead.

Asked at Ireland's training headquarters in Malahide this afternoon where victory over Raymond Domenech’s men would rate on his curriculum vitae, he replied: “In life, the next result is the beautiful one, the most important one. The rest is memories.”

Trapattoni put his players through their paces this afternoon as they prepared for the biggest two games in the nation’s recent history.

There was anger in Ireland last month when it was revealed that the draw for the last eight remaining European berths would be seeded, pitching the Irish into battle with one of the four bigger names.

However, while Trapattoni and his players head into the showdown with their heads held high after negotiating their 10 qualifiers without a single defeat, the French and Domenech in particular find themselves under the spotlight as they seek a route to South Africa via the back door.

But a squad packed with big names such as Thierry Henry, Karim Benzema and Nicolas Anelka does not frighten the Republic boss.

He said: “I’m not afraid about this team. I know the quality of the France players, but our players at their clubs play against Arsenal, against Manchester United.

“France achieved second place in the group like us and we were one of only five unbeaten teams.

“We have a few creative players – maybe France have more and other teams have more still.

“But football is concrete. We are not a theatre, La Scala or Madison Square Garden; it’s football.

“Football is ball, pitch, opponent and mentality, that’s football.

“Results are results, a show is a show and results are different to the show. That is our belief.”

Trapattoni’s mantra since he took up his job in May last year has been to concentrate on the fine detail of how to win – or at least, not lose – football matches, and it was a theme to which he returned as he started his preparations in earnest for Saturday night’s first leg at Croke Park.

He said: “We must prepare carefully and study every little detail for these two games because in these 180 minutes, we can achieve qualification for South Africa.

“We are conscious these will not be easy games. It will be important not to make little mistakes, silly mistakes and if possible, not concede a goal at home because if we concede a goal in Dublin, it’s a very great advantage for our opponents.

“Nerve is very, very important in these games. We must remain calm in every little situation because silly mistakes or distractions can cost you a goal.”

Domenech’s faith in astrology has been ridiculed in France, and while Trapattoni insists the Frenchman can use whatever methods he wants to select his side, he prefers to rely on his own.

He said: “In the past, some managers have gone to tarot readers. But I am a believer and I believe in other things.

“He has his habits and I have my habits.

“Help yourself and God will help you as well. But I’m not God, I’m not St Patrick, I’m human.”

Fulham midfielder Damien Duff, who has shaken off an Achilles problem, was able to train with his team-mates, but Hibernian counterpart Liam Miller was tonight having a scan on a calf injury which could yet rule him out of the two games.

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