Sports: Trapattoni Unsurprised by Armenia
Oct 8 2011


Giovanni Trapattoni insists he has not been taken by surprise by
Armenia’s barnstorming finish to the Euro 2012 qualifying campaign.

The free-scoring Armenians stand between Trapattoni’s Republic of
Ireland and a place in the play-offs in Dublin on Tuesday night after
Russia effectively ended their hopes of snatching automatic

Should the Russians beat Andorra, who lost 2-0 to Ireland in the
Pyrenees on Friday night, in Moscow on Tuesday, even victory for the
Irish will secure only second place in Group B.

Barring a shock of monumental proportions, Trapattoni’s men seem
likely to have to be satisfied with yet another play-off adventure,
and a point against Armenia would keep the group’s dark horses at bay.

The Armenians, who lost 1-0 at home to Ireland in the first round of
qualifiers in September last year, have won each of their last three
games, against Andorra, Slovakia and Macedonia, and scored 11 goals in
the process.

But asked if he had been surprised by their late surge, Trapattoni
said: “No. Maybe if you know the players who play for Armenia, it is
not a surprise.

“The Armenian players play in strong leagues, and some of our players
play in the Championship.

“If you think about it, it is no surprise.

“We must play with 100% mentality and 100% attitude and 100%
concentration, and be careful of silly mistakes.

“We are in this position because of one or two silly mistakes against
Russia, for example.

“Armenia is a very, very strong team. They have scored more goals than
us and we must pay very, very much attention.”

The 72-year-old Italian will send his team into their final group game
with his own future still undecided amid speculation that he will be
offered an extended contract should he guide them to the play-offs.

However, as his second qualifying campaign draws to a close – the
first ended in a controversial aggregate defeat by France which denied
him a trip to the World Cup in South Africa – Trapattoni is confident
significant progress has been made.

He said: “At this stage, I hope I have succeeded in instilling a
mentality in our players.

“Unfortunately, I am quite demanding because in the past, I have built
this mentality with teams I have previously managed.

“I am very pleased with our way, but we can improve again.

“Yesterday evening, I said we want to look at Manchester United.
Obviously, we do not have the players of Manchester United, but with
their mentality, with attitude, with balance, I think we can achieve.”

Ireland’s Rugby World Cup exit was unfolding as Trapattoni and his
players touched down in Dublin during the early hours of on Saturday
morning following a gruelling trip back from Andorra.

Trapattoni said: “I am sorry that Ireland lost in rugby against Wales
because Brian O’Driscoll and his team are our friends and we wished
them to do well.

“But sport is sport and it teaches us that when we have the right
mentality, we can achieve every result.”

The nation had been swathed in optimism in the run-up to the
quarter-final, but as O’Driscoll and his team-mates prepare to head
home, attention will turn to their football counterparts once again.

However, that is a pressure Trapattoni is happy to take on.

He said: “In the first qualifying campaign for the World Cup, we
deserved to achieve the minimum of a play-off place.

“You saw the games against France and with a bit of luck – or without
bad luck – we could have achieved this.

“We feel this pressure. No, it’s not pressure, it is commitment.”

Skipper Robbie Keane was on Saturday undergoing a scan on a sore
adductor muscle, but only as a precautionary measure, while Stoke
striker Jonathan Walters, who did not travel to Andorra because of an
ankle problem, has now joined up with the squad.

Left-back Stephen Ward is suspended for Tuesday’s game as a result of
his second booking of the competition, but Richard Dunne is available
after completing his ban.

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