Trapattoni keeping Ireland players on their toes
DUBLIN - The Associated Press
Even with a 4-0 advantage and only 90 minutes to negotiate, there is little chance Ireland’s players will be allowed to relax in the second leg of the European Championship playoffs against Estonia tonight.
Veteran coach Giovanni Trapattoni has seen just about all there is to see in a near 40-year coaching career and is determined to avoid any slip-ups in Dublin despite the apparent ease of Friday’s victory in Tallinn.
Goals from Keith Andrews and Jon Walters put Ireland ahead 2-0 in the first leg and Robbie Keane scored twice after Estonia had been reduced to nine men through red cards.
“We have a duty to repeat this game, maybe not with the same goals, but for the Irish people,” Trapattoni said. “I have said to the team to be careful. It will not be an easy game.
“It is another 90 minutes for our opponents. They lost some pride and it is important that we play this game with the same seriousness for our opponents and for the people coming to the stadium to watch the game.” But Ireland has a seemingly unassailable lead and Trapattoni has the luxury of being able to change a winning team by choice rather than necessity, should he wish to.
Newcastle forward Leon Best will stay with his club for treatment on the groin and toe injuries that kept him out of the first leg, but striker Kevin Doyle is back in contention having been suspended for that match.
Winger Damien Duff had a scan on his ribs following an accidental clash with teammate Glenn Whelan on Friday but has not sustained any serious damage.
“At home, we can also play with more confidence now with this advantage, but with the same mentality,” Trapattoni said.
For Estonia, the match may be more about regaining pride and restoring reputations than a realistic chance of reaching next year’s tournament in Poland and Ukraine.
Estonia’s defense was already exposed and ineffective before captain Raio Piiroja and Andrei Stepanov were sent off for second bookable offenses.