26 March, 2011

European Championship: Irish captain and manager have their say:

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Ireland manager contemplative during press conference
When asked by media men as to whether he'd let his full-backs push forward more (a direct reference to the manager's ultar-conservative style of football), when considering that the opposition is not as strong as some Ireland will face, manager Giovani Trapatoni countered: "I have never forbidden my full-backs from getting forward. I have never told my full-backs to stay in position. Against Bulgaria, I told my defenders; go (forward), look for crosses." He further elaborated on this point, however, this observer remains rather unconvinced and I firmly believe that any team managed by Giovani Trapatoni will always be playing for a 1-0 win; (or a 0-0 draw against top seeded sides). Trapatoni would not be drawn on the question of it being a must-win game for Ireland, however, he stated that if the game was level in the second half, he would consider introducing young attacking star James McCarthy, even only for "two minutes!"
Trapatoni then moved on to state how he dealt with Stephen Ireland similarly in recent years, which prompted a hack to retort "Get over it," - to much amusement in the press room!
Robbie Keane stated the (obvious) importance of getting the home crowd on your side early on in a game and how the Aviva rugby crowd have really galvanised the national team.
"Not here to make up numbers" - Macedonia Manager Mirsad Jonuz
Meanwhile; at their eve of match press conference; Macedonia Head Coach Mirsad Jonuz stated that "We are not just a one man team. (Goran) Pandev is not playing on his own. He has other good players (playing) around him. This is a strong group except for Andorra and teams can take points off each other. We have come here to win. We must not lose this game if we are to stay in contention."
STAR MAN: Pandev being put throug his paces
Jonuz also stated that they will not use previous games with Ireland to motivate his team. He said that the use of the phrase "I had a Macedonia" by Irish players (in reaction to Ireland's 3-2 defeat to the former Yugoslav state back in 1997), would not be interpretted offensively by the Macedonia players or people. "I expect Irish and Macedonians to interact cordially," said the Head Coach at Friday's eve of match press conference, which was attended by half a dozen Macedonian journalists.
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