Tuesday, September 06, 2005


Qualifier Countdown - 1 day away

Well we're now only 1 day away from the crunch match at Lansdowne Road between Ireland and France.

In the French camp, Patrick Vieira has spoken of the respect he has for Roy Keane:

"I know him well and there has been quite a lot of tension between us on the pitch, but we respect each other.

"It always ended with us shaking hands at the end of the match. I know he will be tough with me and I will be tough with him too.

"He is a very determined man, like me."

Meanwhile in the Irish camp, Andy Reid has questioned the French team that Ireland will face:

"I watched parts of France’s game (against the Faroe Islands) on Saturday, and not being disrespectful to them, I don’t think they are the team that won the World Cup.

"There have been a lot of changes, and the fact Zidane is back does not change anything for me.

"France still have a lot of quality players and if even Zidane was not there then there would be another quality player to come in and take his place.

"We just have to go about our job and do the best we can. I am sure if we do that then we will be happy."

"They won’t be looking forward to coming to Lansdowne Road and playing against us. They will look at our record and see there are not many teams that get a good result," he added.

"We have turned it into a fortress, so they know they are going to be in for a tough game.

"Everybody’s going to be working their socks off, and on top of that we have a hell of a lot of quality players ourselves, and that will frighten them as well."

As well as that, Ireland manager Brian Kerr has said he does not feel under any pressure over the match:

"I don’t feel under any undue pressure.

"Every match we play there’s pressure on us to get a good result, there’s expectancy, hope and people want to see us get to the World Cup.

"But every team I’ve managed, I’ve had pressure managing them and pressure to get results all along the way.

"That’s part and parcel of it, and one of the reasons you maybe get involved in it, but I know how to handle it and deal with it.

"So this is nothing exceptional. There have been plenty of pressure matches for the team and the staff before this fixture."

Kerr went on to speak about how unpredictable the group is:

"It’s very even and you can analyse it in whatever way you like.

"Switzerland are two goals better off, while you can look at Israel and say they’ve two handy matches left and are guaranteed – almost – to get 18 points.

"You can look at us and say we’ve two home games to go, with a difficult game in Cyprus in between.

"Then you can look at France and say they are capable of winning three matches with the fantastic players they have – and they would be expected to win the three.

"There’s angles for everyone, so I don’t think there is one team in the best position."

If Ireland defeat the French tomorrow however, we will certainly be in the best position. Victory is within our grasp with all players fit and raring to go!

Since I have not got tickets for the game, I imagine I will be watching the match in the next best place - the pub!

Come on Ireland!


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