Giovanni Trapattoni took his bow as the Republic of Ireland's new coach on Thursday charged with qualifying his adopted country for South Africa 2010.

The 68-year-old Italian has signed a two-year contract and will aim to bring his years of experience in the game to good use in reviving Irish football fortunes.

Assessing Ireland's chances of FIFA World Cup™ qualification from a group that also includes Italy, Trapattoni said: "I am looking forward to the challenge.

"It will be difficult as we are in a tough group with five other very good teams, but I trust my team. We are all friends and we will work together. It will be a great honour to qualify, but first we have two very important weeks coming up at the end of this month."

Cutting down
He was referring to friendlies against Serbia at Croke Park and Colombia at Fulham's Craven Cottage which will allow him to make a first assessment of the squad he has inherited.

"Very soon we will trim the squad from 40 to 28 players," added Trapattoni as an initial enlarged squad was announced last month. " "They have to decide over the next few weeks if they want to be involved. If they don't then they will not come. We will then use the training camp in Portugal to get our ideas across to the players.''


We will talk to those players who have retired from international
football, but who are still playing at a high
level.

Giovanni Trapattoni is hoping that some Republic of Ireland internationals return to the fold.

Irish-Italian backroom
Trapattoni has surrounded himself with an experienced backroom team that includes fellow Italian Marco Tardelli and Irish legend Liam Brady, along with Frank Stapleton and Mick Martin, both former internationals.

The Irish have failed to qualify for the last three major tournaments.

But Trapattoni, who has won countless trophies throughout his career as a player and manager in Italy, Portugal, Germany and Austria, said: "I have always sought a challenge to bring out the best in me.

"When Don Givens [U-21 coach and a member of the three-man selection panel] called me and asked me if I would be interested in becoming Ireland manager, I became very excited.

"At that moment I was working in Salzburg (with Red Bull), but I needed a new experience, and I think this job is the right one at the right time for me."