The Republic of Ireland were handed a tough draw at Euro 2012 in Kiev on Friday with Giovanni Trapattoni’s side facing the last two world champions in Poland in June.
Ireland were drawn in Group C and will open against a Croatian team who are currently ranked eighth in the Fifa World Rankings in Poznan on June 10 before taking on reigning world and European champions Spain four days later in Gdansk. Ireland conclude their group matches
with a meeting against Trapattoni’s native Italy, who won the 2006 World Cup in Germany, back in Poznan on June 18.
“I wanted to avoid Italy because they are strong mentally and because we know each other,” said Trapattoni. “We knew we had to face strong opponents and I hope we don’t do ourselves harm and that we get to June 18 in a calm way.”
Aston Villa goalkeeper Shay Given from Lifford is, barring injury, a certainty to be in the 23-man squad for the championships. Everton’s Seamus Coleman, having won five caps last season, will be hopeful of keeping his chances alive, while Aiden McGeady and James McCarthy qualify for Ireland through their Donegal ties.
“I really love my job and it will give me huge satisfaction to take Ireland to a finals. It shows that when you are really well organised and have real self-belief you can do it, even with smaller countries. Everybody on the Irish team is looking forward to bringing our football and our style to the tournament. For me it is not about what I have done in the past, and I have done a lot, but about what the future will bring.”