Trap insists Ireland will play with winning mentality
A draw between the Republic of Ireland and Italy in Saturday's penultimate World Cup qualifier at Croke Park would benefit both nations in their pursuit of reaching the 2010 tournament but Ireland manager Giovanni Trapattoni is adamant his side are aiming to collect all three points.
Group Eight is delicately poised going into the last two rounds of fixtures. World Champions Italy lead Ireland at the summit by four points, meaning a draw at Croke Park would confirm their place in South Africa as group victors.
Automatic qualification is also possible for Ireland, should they win both their matches and Italy fail to beat Cyprus at home next Wednesday. Third-placed Bulgaria can still usurp Ireland for second spot and a passage into the play-offs if they overcome Cyprus and Georgia while relying on Ireland to badly slip up on the final hurdle.
On Tuesday, while his Italian counterpart Marcello Lippi was delivering an upbeat assessment on his side's approach to Saturday's game, Trapattoni insisted there will be no complacency from his charges that go into battle at Croke Park.
"For 90 minutes, we will play to win," said the Italian native following his squad's first training session of the week in Dublin. "This week we'll prepare the team to achieve this goal. It's not a personal revenge for me; Ireland have the possibility to win at home against Italy and the players have to believe that.
"I wish to win because I think we can. We have to think also about the table - we need two points from the two games (for the play-offs) but, if Italy lose the last two games, maybe we qualify (automatically)."
Asked whether he expected Italy to come to Dublin seeking the draw to confirm qualification, Trap made it clear that wouldn't be the case.
He said: "Maybe in the game - but before it no. Italy have not changed their squad. I think about their 11 players and they may have one different but they will play with two strikers."
Italy manager Marcello Lippi also addressed the media today from his squad's training camp.
He said: "'It's very important for us to qualify on Saturday. Not only from my point of view but for everyone involved. This is the most important week for us in the last two years. There are two results out of a possible three that will benefit us in Dublin.
"We need a point but it will be a mistake to play for the draw; we have to play our game."