Ireland’s stars put holidays on hold as they chase World Cup qualification

Ireland’s stars put holidays on hold as they chase World Cup qualification

Ireland’s senior internationals will have to delay the traditional end-of-season break from competition with a World Cup qualifying tie of critical importance against Bulgaria on their schedule. Ireland travel to Sofia for the June 6 qualifying tie with a ticket to the finals in South Africa in 2010 within reach
11th May 2009
The challenge for the Republic of Ireland senior international players over the next month will be to maintain their fitness and sharpness at a time they would normally expect to be on holiday.

The coming week will mark the end of the season for most of Ireland’s players except for those privileged few involved in play-offs or, in John O’Shea’s exceptional case (pictured left in training), looking forward to the Champions’ League final.

Ireland’s players know, however, that while their colleagues head off for a break in the sun, they must maintain their fitness and their focus ahead of a critical up-coming world Cup qualifying match.

Ireland play Bulgaria in Sofia on June 6th next with a huge prize to play for.

Victory would surely speed Ireland on to the remaining qualifying matches with their sights on overhauling Italy and claiming that one automatic qualifying place for the finals in South Africa next year.

Ireland’s manager Giovanni Trapattoni will select his squad for the match against Bulgaria next week and will be keenly looking forward to bringing his squad together for the friendly against Nigeria on Friday, May 29.

The importance of this friendly cannot be exaggerated given the timing of the vital match against Bulgaria.

Defeat for Ireland in Sofia would revitalise Bulgaria’s challenge and also keep alive the outside hopes of Cyprus and Montenegro of finishing second and snatching a play-off place.

FIFA WORLD CUP 2010 - Group 8, Europe

Team

P

W

D

L

GF

GA

Pts

Italy

6

4

2

0

9

3

14

Ireland

6

3

3

0

7

4

12

Bulgaria

5

1

4

0

5

3

7

Cyprus

5

1

1

3

4

7

4

Montenegro

5

0

3

2

3

6

3

Georgia

7

0

3

4

4

9

3


Ireland
will go into the match against Bulgaria on twelve points from seven matches.

Bulgaria will line-up with seven points from five matches while Cyprus currently have four points from five games and Montenegro have three points from five matches.

On the night that Bulgaria play Ireland, Cyprus will play Montenegro in Nicosia and a win for either side could inspire them to finish the qualifying tournament strongly.

Cyprus especially will have ambitions for they have home matches against Ireland and Bulgaria to come.

The programme of upcoming matches then is intriguing and Manager Giovanni Trapattoni will be hoping to have a full squad of fit players available in London for the match against Nigeria.

He and his players will be determined to put thoughts of holidays in the sun on hold while they work to bring their state of preparedness to a peak in time for a huge effort in Sofia.

All going well, Ireland can secure the result they need in Bulgaria and that would send them on in good shape for the attractive friendlies against Australia and South Africa in Thomond Park, Limerick, and the remaining World Cup ties against Cyprus, Italy and Montenegro.

The Super Eagles of Nigeria should prove ideal opposition with players of the quality of John Obi Mikel (Chelsea), Obafemi Martins (Newcastle United) and Fulham’s Dickson Etuhu available.

The match will be hosted by the FAI at Craven Cottage, London, the home of the English Premier League club, Fulham FC. Kick-off will be at 8.00 pm and tickets are currently available at £20.00 for adults and £5.00 for juniors.

Tickets for this fixture are currently on sale and can be purchased through this link: www.fulhamfc.com/ireland

or alternatively:
By phone (0044) 870 442 1234 ROI / 0870 442 1234 UK (option 1) open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week

In person from the ticket office, Fulham Football Club, Stevenage Road, Fulham, SW6 6HH

The important fixtures looming larger by the day for Ireland and the remaining World Cup qualifying matches in the Group are as follows:

29/05/’09: Friendly - Ireland v Nigeria, Craven Cottage, 8.00 pm.
06/06/’09: World Cup Qualifiers: Bulgaria v Ireland, Sofia
Cyprus v Montenegro
12/08/’09: Friendly – Ireland v Australia, Thomond Park
05/09/’09: World Cup Qualifiers: Cyprus v Ireland
Bulgaria v Montenegro
Georgia v Italy
09/09/’09: World Cup Qualifiers: Italy v Bulgaria
Montenegro v Cyprus
08/09/’09: Friendly - Ireland v South Africa, Thomond Park
10/10/’9: World Cup Qualifiers: Ireland v Italy, Croke Park
Montenegro v Georgia 
Cyprus v Bulgaria
14/10/’09: World Cup Qualifiers: Ireland v Montenegro, Croke Park
Italy v Cyprus
Bulgaria v Georgia