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Ireland football coach chases first victory

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 29 May 2008

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Giovanni Trapattoni will be chasing his first win as Republic of Ireland coach when his side face Colombia in Thursday's friendly at Craven Cottage.

After Andy Keogh's late equaliser rescued a 1-1 draw against Serbia at Croke Park on Saturday, Trapattoni has a second chance to get off the mark as the Irish team set up a brief residency in west London.

Trapattoni was fortunate that his decision to send on Keogh paid instant dividends and avoided an embarrasing defeat.

But the legendary Italian coach was reasonably encouraged by his first match and expects further progress against the South Americans.

If the glowing praise from Manchester United defender John O'Shea is anything to go by, Trapattoni should enjoy the full support of his squad, despite reports that several players broke a curfew ahead of the Serbia match.

“Giovanni knows what is required for our squad and our team to qualify for the World Cup,” O'Shea said.

“At United, Carlos Queiroz takes a lot of the training while the manager does the important thing by making the team selection and the wise words.

“He is out there every day watching us but I would say that Trapattoni is more hands on. And after witnessing him at close hand, his enthusiasm and desire is very similar to our manager at United.

“It was a surprise to me that Trapattoni's name came from nowhere but obviously when Fergie spoke about him to me, he spoke very highly of him.

“But it's incredible when you see Giovanni's passion in the teamtalks. He sees the little things, has the experience and he is not fazed by anything.”

Trapattoni will be without Stephen Hunt after the Reading winger suffered a hamstring injury, but Aiden McGeady has recovered from a knee problem and should feature. Celtic's Darren O'Dea could be in line to win his first cap.

“I saw McGeady in training for the first time and he did really well. Maybe he will not start, but he will play at some stage, as will O'Shea,” Trapattoni said.

Jorge Luis Pinto's Colombians are in Europe to prepare for their forthcoming World Cup qualifiers against Peru and Ecuador.

As well as Ireland they will also play France – who beat Ecuador 2-0 on Tuesday – in Paris on June 3.

Pinto, whose side are unbeaten in their four qualifiers so far, has added Stalin Motta and Jaime Castrillon to his squad.

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