Dunne targets three points in Nicosia

Dunne targets three points in Nicosia

It's been a busy week for Richard Dunne ...
3rd Sep 2009


It's been a busy week for Richard Dunne, having ended his nine-year association with Manchester City by moving to Aston Villa, but the Republic of Ireland central defender is fully focussed on this Saturday 2010 World Cup qualifier against Cyprus in Nicosia.


Though confirmation of the transfer only came through yesterday morning as he was training with his international team-mates, Dunne insists he's happy to get the matter over and be able to channel all his energy into Ireland duty.


"Those things are always uncomfortable and a bit up in the air when you don't know where you're going to be playing for rest of season, so its nice to get it sorted and be to able to come here and concentrate on the two games coming up," he said this morning (Thursday) before the Ireland squad held their final training session ahead of their departure to Cyprus.


"I'm not bitter about leaving Manchester City. I really enjoyed it there and the fans were fantastic to me. They've been crying out for success for a long time and it seems they're on brink of it, so wish them all the best. It's a real family club and I just hope they get what they deserve.


"I'm moving to a side that have similar ambitions to Manchester City. They don't have the financial backing (of City) but have a squad as good as most in league. I feel it's good enough to challenge for at least the top six."


Dunne grimaces when he recalls his last game for Ireland in Cyprus, the 5-2 defeat in 2006 when he got sent-off. This time, Ireland will be better prepared but he's still expecting the hosts to provide stern opposition.


"The memories of the last time aren't great but you just try to put it to the back of your mind.


"Every time we play Cyprus, that game gets brought up and people speak about revenge.


"For us, though, it's all about winning the game. We beat them at home in Croke Park the last time, which was a very hard game, and we know it's going to be very difficult on Saturday, but ours is a different squad now.


"There's probably a stronger mentality in the squad and we're just three games away from finding out where we finish in the table. We really need to pick up maximum points frome them to give us the best chance (of qualifying)."


Hopes are high that Sean St. Ledger's knee injury will clear up in time - he took part in Wednesday afternoon's training session - to give Giovanni Trapattoni a full squad to select from. Cyprus, conversely, will be missing Michael Konstantinou and Konstantinos Makridis through suspension.


Dunne said: "When we've got our full squad we're a game for anybody. If they've been weakened, that's great. But Cyprus is just one of those pitches and places where, regardless of who they have playing, is always difficult and they always seem to do well there.


"I was there (Nicosia) last season with Manchester City and they had pictures of the 5-2 win up all around the place.


"Cyprus will go out knowing they can beat us but hopefully we can do similar to what we did in Bulgaria by working well together, nicking an early goal and, this time, hang on to it.


"The players are desperate to win the game. Saturday is the big one because a win would allow us to go into the final two qualifiers with a bit of room behind us.


"We feel at home in Corke Park we can beat anyone, so if we can we can go there and get three points, it will really set us up."