Republic of Ireland manager Giovanni Trapattoni feels his team fully deserved a point following their 0-0 draw away to Sweden on Friday.
Ireland needed a positive result in Stockholm to try and keep pace with second-placed Sweden and top side Germany in Group C of qualifying for the 2014 FIFA World Cup.
Austria’s 6-0 win over the Faroe Islands saw Ireland slip to fourth in the group, and they remain hard-pressed to book a spot at the tournament in Brazil next year.
Nevertheless, veteran Italian coach Trapattoni was proud of his players’ performance against their more-fancied opponents.
“We started very well,” he told RTE.
“The team started with confidence. We deserved the draw, because we changed the team, and some players, and their performance was very good. Particularly (James) McCarthy, also (Seamus) Coleman, I am very happy.”
Trapattoni introduced forwards Wes Hoolahan, Conor Sammon and Andy Keogh during the last 14 minutes in what the coach described as a brave bid to claim all three points.
“The last 30 minutes I thought it was very possible to snatch the winner,” Trapattoni said.
“It was not easy to change, because all players played well, but I tried to force the situation with Hoolahan, and with Sammon, and Keogh. With this freshness, I hoped we could score a goal.”
Trapattoni hailed the midfield combination of James McCarthy, a late inclusion for the injured Glenn Whelan, and Paul Green, who has struggled to win over fans and journalists since making his debut in 2010.
“James improves every game,” Trapattoni said.
“He can do more. Physically he is perfect, technically also, but he is a little bit shy. I said to him ‘you must speak to them, you must command the players.’ I am happy, because I think he can be a very, very important player for us.”
“Paul Green is underestimated in the media, but I think James played very well, but he also had the support of Paul. There is (Gennaro) Gattuso, a player like Green. This helps the other player play better because he spares energy. This combination of McCarthy and Green it works very well.”
Trapattoni defended the work he has done transforming the squad since being appointed in 2008.
“We (the coaching staff) are happy for our jobs, in two years, or three years, we have changed many players,” Trapattoni said.
“Since the squad three years ago, we discovered many, many young players. A new team, a new Ireland.
“This time we have achieved more confidence because of the good result. I always say ‘there is show, and there is the result’.
“Now we have more confidence, especially for the young players. We are happy with this team. Three years ago, we had bigger squad. Now, I have much more difficulty choosing the players.”
Ireland take on Austria at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin on Tuesday.