Ireland’s World Cup agony buoyed by future promise
The Republic of Ireland were left reflecting on what could have been after beating World Cup finalists Paraguay 2-1 at Dublin’s RDS last night.
In a friendly which held more significance for the visitors than the Irish, Giovanni Trapattoni’s men showed greater desire and looked like a side ready to take on the football world’s elite.
Indeed, results under the Italian stalwart would suggest this Ireland squad are more than capable of competing with the best.
During the World Cup qualifying stages, Robbie Keane’s late equaliser rescued an admirable point against Italy in Bari. And when the reigning world champions visited Croke Park last November, Ireland were only denied an historic victory by Gilardino’s late equaliser.
The progress this blossoming side has made was further highlighted earlier this year when the men in green met the flair of Brazil at Emirates stadium. Despite a 2-0 reversal, the Irish kept pace with the Brazilians, only lacking the unpredictability which has made the samba kings famous.
The world cup play-off against France is understandably still fresh in the minds of the Irish and it is sure to remain a bitter topic for years to come.
Nevertheless this current Ireland squad has regained the tenacity, spirit and winning nature which had evaporated under the management of Brian Kerr and Steve Staunton.
Before last night’s match the Ireland manager, Giovanni Trappatoni, reminded the players of their potential and the possibilities which lay before them.
“I reminded the team we are a good side before the match,” he said. “We watched clips of the games against Italy, France and Brazil. I reminded them that we could be in South Africa. But doing it in the past is not enough.”
So when the Irish national team consider what might have been this summer, they can take solace from past performances and future promise.
Their focus will now be on qualification for the European Championships in 2012 and once again producing performances to match the quality of grandeur teams.
Trappatoni’s men face Algeria -one of England’s opponents in Group C -in another friendly this Friday and the occasion will provide the likes of Damien Duff and Kevin Doyle with the chance to end a long and hard-fought campaign on a positive note.