/ Soccer

Giovanni Trapattoni defends record ahead of Austria decider

Updated: Monday, 09 Sep 2013 22:06 | Comments

Giovanni Trapattoni's side face Austria on Tuesday night
Giovanni Trapattoni's side face Austria on Tuesday night

Giovanni Trapattoni brushed aside speculation surrounding his future as he prepared for a potentially pivotal game in his reign as Republic of Ireland manager.

The 74-year-old is well aware that the nation's hopes of World Cup qualification could be over by the time the final whistle sounds at the Ernst Happel Stadion in Vienna on Tuesday night as both Ireland and Austria desperately attempt to clutch on to the coat-tails of Group C rivals Sweden in the race for second place.

Trapattoni has accepted his time at the helm is drawing to a close, although he has every intention of fulfilling his contract, which is due to expire in June next year.

If it has anything to do with his most ardent critics, the axe will fall sooner than that, but the veteran Italian will go kicking and screaming and insisting the foundations are in place for future success.

Asked if the ongoing discussion over his position had proved a distraction, he said: "Absolutely not. I continue my job.

"After this, if I was [Football Association of Ireland chief executive] John Delaney, I would say, 'Giovanni, continue because Giovanni has done a great job in these five years'.

"First was [the World Cup play-off in] France - and you know what happened. We changed again and we achieved [qualification for] the Euros, and we changed again.

"In the Euros, we played against Spain and Italy, who finished first and second.

"When I assess what we have done until now, we have to continue to do it. I promised change and promised to discover new players, young players, and the players have changed.

"I would like to have this new team at a club because I would have the possibility to work every day, every week with this team.

"I am sure I could develop this team, their quality and their experience very much."

In the shorter term, Trapattoni's only focus will be to extend Ireland's World Cup mission into next month, something which could prove almost impossible whatever happens in Vienna if Sweden, who won 2-1 in Dublin on Friday evening, repeat the feat in Kazakhstan.

The former Italy boss admits qualification from the current position will be difficult, and appears to have re-calibrated his targets in recent days by insisting that finishing in third place in the group would represent an achievement.

However, the immediate challenge for his players is to prove that the progress they made during the first four years of his tenure was real and not simply a figment of his imagination.

He said: "I have said to the players, we must play for our shirt, for our country and that what you have done until now was not a dream.

"In the first half against Sweden I saw a very good team, and our attitude, our balance, our mentality is this.

"In the second half, we lost our enthusiasm. But yesterday I saw again a team with enthusiasm with our capacity, our strength, and I think tomorrow we can do well, as in the past.

"We are aware it's very important for both teams. We know the only objective is to win.

"Only with this result can we keep our hopes alive, but we still have three matches to play and anything can happen.

"What happened to us over 90 minutes against Sweden can happen to other teams. Anything can happen."

User contributions and/or comments do not, unless specifically stated, represent the views of RTÉ.ie or RTÉ.
Click here for Terms of use
Powered by NewsWhip