Pre-match player-voices on Republic of Ireland v France

I’ve set my mind on following all the pre-match writings in the press about the clash between Ireland and France on Saturday. But it is too much for a little flea to swallow. What an interest for this match!

Anyway I will publish the interviews I’ve sampled until now from different sources. It’s a very large post so I thought if you have a couple of days you may have the time to finish reading it before the game.

We’ll start with Roy Keane, former player and manager for Ireland:



It will be an intriguing game because France are a very dangerous team. France have some very good players, but then good players don’t necessarily make a good team and Ireland do have a good team. Individually France have better players but Ireland have shown over the years to be a good team and that is what you need. But this needs a different mentality because they need to win. There may have been one or two too many draws, but he has got them to where they are by being disciplined. That’s Trapattoni’s mindset and you can’t question that or what he’s done. They will need that again over the next week or so and a bit more now.”


That’s why the games are going to be good because one or the other team will have to take a risk at some stage to win the game. That’s like the Champions League at the moment. The group matches are absolutely boring. It is the next round where it gets interesting when teams need to win.

Viera will be missing and he’s not been playing regularly for his club team. But France have some good players. Whatever side they put out we all know they will be hard to beat.


The same Patrick Vieira told L’Equipe he was furious of getting axed from the France team against Ireland.

I know that, in my position, there is no one better than me in France at the moment. This could seem pretentious but I am sure of that. I have set myself the target of featuring in the next World Cup. What is certain is that I will do the maximum to be there. After that, there is a coach who will make his choices and take responsibility for them.

Vieira has not been picked to play for Inter Milan and that’s probably why the French coach doesn’t pick him for the national team.

I know my delicate situation in that I am not an unquestionable starter for my club. I am getting back to my top level, which is encouraging. I have overcome this stage. Now, I have to build up a run of matches and be a regular player.”


Bac Sagna, prolific player for Arsenal was speaking to L’Equipe the other day and the Ireland goalkeeper Shay Given was the first to be analysed by him.

All great teams need a great goalkeeper. From that point of view, it’s no coincidence that Manchester City bought him from Newcastle [United]. Since the beginning of the season, he has saved the Citizens on numerous occasions, often match exceptional saves.

Manchester United’s John O’Shea was the next to be examined.

He is accustomed to big games. The fact that he starts at Manchester United says it all. When a national team has players like him, it proves they are a great nation. It’s natural they want to prove that they are better than France.

And then he came to Damien Duff and called him
one of the best in his position in England,” while the Wolves striker Kevin Doyle was also spoken of in favourable terms. On Robbie Keane he said
He is one of the stars of this team. He is a complete striker: clever and very smart – a true goal scorer.


Shay Given spoke to the other day:

I think finishing second place in our qualification group was a good achievement. We were in a group with the world champions and a good Bulgaria side. We went unbeaten and gave the Italians two very close games that we could have won – we showed we can compete against the world’s top sides. We would have taken a play-off place before a ball was kicked, so we’ve got to be happy.

Some people would say that France are the best team in the play-offs, but we’re just focusing on going out there and playing our own game. We have to believe. We know France are the favourites but that’s fine with us, it means there’s more pressure on them. We need to just play our own game and give it everything. We have two massive games in front of us, but I think we’re in with great chance of reaching the World Cup.


Patrice Evra spoke freely to France Football:

I must say that it’s now or never. France loves those games in which the first issue is of physical combat. Many players in our country have that fighting spirit. You can talk about tactics, whatever you want – the trick here is the fighting spirit. Without it, you can not win this match.

We must stop hiding behind (manager) Domenech whenever we have a bad result. The fans who whistle are the same. They should not forget that he is the coach who must lead France to the World Cup. I feel that the country is behind us, so that’s when the Stade de France transforms to become an arena.(Club-mate) John O’Shea has promised us hell at Croke Park.”


Nicholas Anelka sounded very worried when he spoke to Sporting Life

Maybe it’s written in the stars that I won’t be at the World Cup finals. It will be a crazy atmosphere (at Croke Park), a real battle for us. We know we have to stop them at set-pieces.


Keith Andrews talked with a journalist from The Independent:

Everyone is saying they are not the force they used to be and they’ve one or two injuries. They’ve still got fantastic players and we’re under no illusions about how difficult it’s going to be. But we’re very confident. We’re unbeaten in our group and we know they won’t fancy playing against us. It’s a two-game play-off we can get through. At Croke Park, with the fans behind us, it will be very difficult for them. We have a real togetherness that the manager has introduced. Hopefully we can nick a good result at home and really take it to them away.”

About the seeding of France:

If anything was needed to fire us up more, that was certainly it. I don’t know how you can do that at such a late stage in the competition. It’s farcical. They are seeded when the draw is made in the first place. France were top seeds in their group and only just scraped second in the end. What more help do they want?

Kevin Kilbane had a lengthy interview for City Magazine, Hull:

My enthusiasm has never waved – and never will. As long as my wife keeps pushing me out of the door and as long as Ireland want me, I’ll carry on playing. I’ve been lucky I’ve managed to stay injury-free. At times, other players who might have taken my place have been injured so I’ve filled in. That’s been lucky from my point of view. Touch wood, that will continue. I can’t say how long I will go on for. I’ve enjoyed every minute of it – from the first time I played in ’97. I’ve had some unbelievable times. Obviously, I’d love to play in another World Cup, though. I’ve managed one so far and come close on another couple of occasions. I just hope we can qualify. It’s a tough one against France. The seedings didn’t help us, but we know what to expect.

About manager Trapattoni:

He commands tremendous respect and everyone knows him throughout world football. He’s won virtually every honour in the game so he commands respect when you talk to him. He’s incredible to work with. His knowledge of the game is brilliant. I’m sure we will know everything about the French players there is to know. As a player, when you go into games, you know you are well prepared and you’ll have a chance against anyone.

About the French and his club-mate Bernard Mendy:

Ever since the draw was made, Bernard has been giving out the stick and saying we’re out before we even kick a ball against France, But he was pretty much out-numbered with me, Macca (Paul McShane) and Huntie (Stephen Hunt). We’ve also got a couple of young Irish lads who are doing really well at the club, so we’re well represented. Bernard is confident, but we’ll wait and see what happens.

They (France) haven’t been as consistent this time as they have in recent year, but towards the end of their qualifying campaign, they were showing real form and put some good results together. They’ve got quality players right through their side. They’ll be the favourites and we’ll be the underdogs but we’re used to that.


Stephen Hunt talked to the same paper:

Of course, it’s winnable. I know what some people think, but we’ve just drawn against the world champions. In fact, we should have beaten the world champions on two occasions in qualifying. Really, we should have qualified automatically, but at least we’re in the play-offs and we still have a fighting chance.

France will be strong, but then we’ve more than a few good players ourselves. The first leg is in Dublin. The whole country will be behind us and, if we can get any kind of result to take to France, then we’ve got a chance and I don’t care what anyone else thinks.


Glenn Whelan says to the Stoke official site:

The performance against Italy has given us a great deal of confidence and we were within minutes of winning that game 2-1. If we can reproduce that form in this first leg, then we are quite capable of causing an upset. France are favourites and so all the pressure is on them. The French are a top nation with some excellent players, but they haven’t performed as well in the group as many people expected.

The fact that we have given the World Champions Italy a run for their money shows how far we have come and we finished our group unbeaten. We need to get a good result in the first leg and put even more pressure on the French. Then hopefully we’ll take a lot of supporters to Paris.

Maybe if we had been drawn against Slovenia, we would have been the favourites and that would have made it harder for us. But as underdogs, nobody will be expecting too much of us and so we can go out there and give it a right go. Who knows what might happen?


Richard Dunne talked lengthy to a French journalist

They (France) have some of the best players in the world. We know this weekend and Wednesday is going to be hard for us. They are the favourites to go through and for us it is going to be a tough battle. They are similar to Germany and Italy. When they need it, they usually produce. But it is our chance to get to a World Cup as well. It is all about us battling and fighting for each other.

The French journalist asked Dunne what Ireland have going for them, apart from the Croke Park atmosphere and their fighting spirit.

That’s about it, haha. We have got the belief and France have got all the flair and the skill. We believe there is no one in the world that can match us for work rate and effort . and fighting spirit and Croke Park! That is the way we are. We have the likes of Robbie Keane and Damien Duff, who can do skills and different things, but as a whole we are a tough team to beat. That is basically down to the team spirit and the attitude of the players when we go on the pitch.

About the Ireland manager Giovanni Trapattoni

Every game we come over for he tells us what is going to happen and how we are going to win the game. So far he has been right on all the occasions and we have not had any setbacks in the group stages. We have become really organised and difficult to play against. We have come from a side that was probably losing too many games, to a side that is drawing games. It is an improvement. On Saturday, we will have to go one step more and start winning games.

About plying against Thierry Henry

I have a lot of respect for him but that all goes out the window on Saturday. We have to get stuck in to him and make it hard for him.

About his pitch-partner Sean St Ledger

Sean has been great since he came into the side. He will often come over and ask myself, Kevin (Kilbane) or John (O’Shea) for a bit of advice. You tell him and he just gets on with it and plays his own game. So far he has done really well. He will have nerves, but so will everyone else on the pitch because of the occasion. The prize at the end of it is amazing, so it will be nerve-wracking for everyone.

The reporter asks about his age and if this is his last chance to play in the World Cup

Even if it is not, it is the chance to play in a World Cup. It is huge and I am really desperate to get there. The way the whole campaign has gone it will be a shame if we don’t qualify. We have had critics for our style of play, but we have always been strong and determined. If we can do that this time, then we will have fully deserved to have qualified.

Dunne also talked to English reporters of Daily Mail about the France manager Domenec, who was booed at by the crowd as he entered the audience in a match of tennis lately in France. Domenec has also called the Irish national team an ‘English B team’.

It doesn’t surprise me he said that. Every time a tournament comes round, they have all these world-class players and then a man who seems intent on messing them up.

Even watching Sky Sports today, you can see the reaction of the people at the tennis when they put his face on the big screen and the whole place just booed him and his own players laughed at him.

It could be a weakness, it could be a big smokescreen. The last few games they have played really well and they seem to be clicking now but if we can get on top of them and try to turn the game into a battle, we feel we have the stronger personalities who are up for that sort of game. Over the last World Cups and Euros, things have not run smoothly for France. They’ve always got through and maybe it’s time we put a stop to that. We know if we can get in front, that they probably have not got the man at the top to pull them back round.


The France manager Raymond Domenech said to RTÉ ahead of the game:

Saturday is not very far. The match is coming up little by little. I don’t want it (the pressure) to build up. The pressure – well, it’s internal. If the players don’t have it inside them, which is what I told them at the outset, it means we’re cheating ourselves, that we’ve got nothing to do here.”

It’s not worth insisting on it. There are matches which don’t need external pressure. It’s here – the players want to go to the World Cup. If they are not motivated, prepared and don’t have the desire to put themselves in the right conditions … well, I’m sorry, there’s nothing more to add. They are ready. It’s not worth adding an excess of pressure.


~ by paddytheflea on November 11, 2009.

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