Trapattoni: Stay positive on qualification
Republic of Ireland boss Giovanni Trapattoni insisted last night's 3-2 defeat by Russia was not a major blow to their UEFA EURO 2012 qualifying hopes. Slovakia's surprise loss to Armenia earlier in the day left the Republic as the only side in Group B still with a 100% record and knowing victory over Russia would put them in pole position to reach their first major finals in a decade.
Robbie Keane and Shane Long scored late on to make it an exciting finish but the visitors had netted three times in the opening 50 minutes, and the hosts could not prevent a defeat that means Slovakia, Russia and the Republic all have two wins from three games.
Trapattoni's side now travel to Slovakia on Tuesday, and the Italian believes they can take plenty of heart from the way they finished yesterday's game at Dublin's Aviva Stadium.
He said: "At the moment we have three teams the same and we start again the qualification. It is important now we think about our quality and our possibilities. Russia lost against Slovakia, now Slovakia have lost against Armenia. The qualification is not easy and there's a long way to go. I'm sure we have the same chance. It was important psychologically not to lose our mental strength and we finished strongly."
Trapattoni is also pleased the Republic have the chance to make amends immediately and do not have to wait weeks for another game to come around.
"It's important because we need to understand immediately what happened and why one or two situations occurred," he added. "Both teams lost (yesterday). Slovakia are a good team with good players. But we can win on Tuesday."
The Republic's comeback began after Trapattoni withdrew striker Kevin Doyle and brought on midfielder Keith Fahey in his place. The Italian admitted he was already looking ahead to the match in Zilina and dismissed suggestions he may be tempted to start with the formation that caused Russia so many late problems.
"I was thinking of Tuesday, I was not sure we could score a goal," he said. "Doyle and Keane complement each other so we cannot do without one of them."
For Russia, the result was the perfect response to their surprise home defeat by Slovakia in the previous round of qualifiers. The combination of victory in Dublin and Slovakia's defeat yesterday lessened the impact of last month's loss, but coach Dick Advocaat knows they must repeat the feat in Macedonia on Tuesday to stay on track for qualification.
The Dutchman said: "The players knew (about Slovakia's result) so that helped a little bit but it was not so important because if we did not have this result then it would be very difficult. We're back in the group but we still have to do well on Tuesday because if we don't do that it's still not good."
Advocaat was particularly pleased with how little opportunity Russia gave the Republic to play in and around their box, something Slovakia coach Vladimir Weiss will surely be interested in when he watches a tape of the match.
Assessing his team's main rivals, Advocaat added: "Both teams are very dangerous. We did not give Ireland the opportunity to play the way they like to play. We forced them to play the long ball and handled them really well."