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King calm after ´weird´ fortnight

Republic of Ireland caretaker coach Noel King has not had time to be nervous ahead of his maiden match in charge.

King has stepped into the hole left by Giovanni Trapattoni, who was sacked following Ireland’s loss to Austria last month, which ensured the Irish were out of contention for an automatic route to next year’s World Cup finals.

Ireland are set to play Germany on Friday and Kazakhstan on Tuesday in their final two qualifiers of UEFA’s Group C and they must win both, plus see other results go their way, to have any chance of finishing second, which would send them into a two-legged play-off for a spot at Brazil 2014.

King barely discussed how realistic that situation will be, while the 57-year-old former Republic of Ireland national women’s team manager and under-21s boss added he has barely had a moment to reflect on his promotion with the senior men’s side since he took over on September 23.

“Am I nervous? I don’t think I’ve had time to be nervous to be honest with you, it’s been mad, it’s been a weird window of two weeks,” King said on Thursday.

“Sometimes you’re going to be nervous as a player, you’re bound to be nervous so it would be unnatural for me not to be nervous.”

Ireland can collect a maximum of 17 points in Group C, which will, at best, take them level with second-placed Sweden and third-placed Austria.

To finish second, King and his men would need Austria to defeat Sweden on Friday, which would mean the Austrians would also rise to 17 points.

Austria and Sweden would then both have to lose on the final matchday, to the Faroe Islands and Germany respectively, while Ireland would have to make up a significant chunk of goal difference as they currently trail the Austrians by eight and the Swedes by six in that statistic.

But King was not focusing on the mathematics of the situation heading into his team’s game against Germany in Cologne, instead choosing to underline how important it was for Ireland to regain some self-confidence with some success.

“What I want to get out of them (the last two qualification matches), and I think what everybody wants to get out of them in the squad, is to try and win two games,” King said.

“We would never go into a match without that ambition.

“There are professional players, there’s a great number of (English) Premiership players in the dressing room, Championship players, Scottish Premier (League) players, Russian Premier League.

“So there is a lot of players with ability.

“If we have the ability of the German players doesn’t really matter. It’s what we do with that ability and how we work together and how we put ourselves out will dictate.

“You have to set your stall out to try and win the game.”

Fri 11 October, 2013
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