Sunday, February 7, 2010

Ireland drawn against Russians in Euro draw

Euro 2012 qualifying draw: Group B


Ireland manager Giovanni Trappatoni has called on his team to show the spirit of Paris when they begin the battle to qualify for Euro 2012.

Ireland were denied a place at this summer's World Cup when they lost a play-off to France, a defeat made controversial by Thierry Henry's handball in the build-up to the winner in Paris.

Trappatoni's side had matched the French in both legs with a Robbie Keane goal in the second match cancelling out Nicolas Anelka's goal in Dublin before Henry's misdemeanour set up the decisive stoppage-time effort from William Gallas.

And the Italian believes the same qualities will take the Irish to Euro 2012 after they were drawn with Russia, Slovakia, FYR Macedonia, Armenia and Andorra.

'We will start with the same mentality we had three months ago against France,' Trappatoni told Sky Sports News.

'If we begin with the same mentality, we have the possibility to qualify.'

Russia, top seeds in the draw, did not qualify for the World Cup either having suffered a surprise defeat to Slovenia, but Slovakia did.

And Trappatoni admitted the Slovakians could be as big a threat as Guus Hiddink's team.

'I think all the groups for me are about equal,' said Trappatoni. 'It's a tough group but other groups are also tough.

'Russia will be difficult and Slovakia. Slovakia are a technically good team and they are a team with a very tough mentality.'

Unlike the Russians, Slovakia will travel to South Africa this summer, having topped their group ahead of Slovenia, the Czech Republic and Northern Ireland.

And there will be worries about a trip to Macedonia where Mick McCarthy's team came unstuck in 1999, a last-gasp equaliser from Goran Stavreski denying them a place at Euro 2000.

They remain testing opponents on their own patch. Scotland recently came a cropper in Skopje while Norway dropped points and Holland only left with a 2-1 win.

Armenia and Andorra ought to prove less troublesome in a campaign which will start in September.

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