Ireland dedicated to book a EURO place
PARIS - Agence France-Presse
Ireland’s Damien Duff (R) vies for the ball with Armenia’s Karlen Mkrtchyan. AFP photo
The Republic of Ireland hopes to erase the bitter memories of missing the boat to last year’s World Cup when it takes on Estonia in Talinn tonight in EURO 2012 qualification playoffs.
Thierry Henry’s infamous handball helped France edge Ireland in qualifying for South Africa 2010 and Giovanni Trapattoni’s side is desperate to atone for that agonizing near miss and qualify for its first major finals in almost a decade.
Ireland, which made the playoffs after taking the runner-up spot in Group B behind Russia, is up against a side it beat twice in qualifying for the World Cup in 2002.
Despite the apparent gulf in quality Trapattoni has warned against seeing Estonia as pushover. “There is no room for complacency,” the Italian sais. “We will remember that Estonia have as much right to be in the playoff as ourselves. These games will be a huge challenge for us, and we must maintain the correct mentality from start to finish.”
The Estonians are just happy to be still in the running for Ukraine and Poland after finish second to Italy in Group C. “There is definitely no pressure on us,” Estonian Football Association spokesman Mihkel Uiboleht told AFP. “We have already achieved something wonderful and extraordinaryby playing in the playoffs.”