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 Rep. of Ireland meet Slovakia at Dublin's Aviva stadium

The Republic of Ireland forge ahead with their Euro 2012 dreams as the boys in green host third-placed Slovakia this Friday, 2 September, at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin.

All eyes will be on whether Giovanni Trappatoni’s men can secure the three points needed to progress on a confident note in advance of meeting Russia four days later.

Captain Robbie Keane has flown in this week from his new base in Los Angeles ahead of the crucial clash and hungry to add to his international goal tally of 52,

Assistant manager of the Republic of Ireland squad Marco Tardelli is upbeat about Ireland’s chances of securing a win ahead of Friday but is mindful of the physicality of the Slovakian team and the potential problems posed by their strong defence.

Tardelli has put Ireland’s chances of qualification on an equal footing with Slovakia with the outcomes of the next two games likely to go a long way towards deciding the Group B winners. He said he is under no illusions about the strength of effort needed to seize the opportunity to progress but that the mental feeling within the squad at the moment is positive.

He says the support of the Irish fans will be crucial to generating a winning atmosphere at Dublin’s Aviva stadium.

With four days in between games the Group B challengers will fly to Moscow for the second game in the double header against Russia on 6 September.

What is the mood in the squad in the build up to Friday’s game against Slovakia? How are the nerves?

The feeling in the team in good. The players trained this morning (Tuesday) and I think we will be very good against Slovakia if we can remain focused and keep our concentration. We can play very well but there is so much pressure and it will be very tough because the Slovakian team is physically strong and I think they are very strong in defence. They scored six goals in their last game and their defence is very tough.

Are there any fitness worries in the squad that might affect the final selection?

No, there are no fitness concerns. This is not a worry. There is just one player at the moment Kevin Kilbane, who has had some problems with his back but I think he can recover for Friday’s game

How hopeful are you that Ireland can progress through the qualifiers to secure a place in Euro 2012?

Their chances are the same as Russia and Slovakia I think. We have grown up during the campaign and there are now been many options in the midfield, defence and with the strikers. We have new young players like Simon Cox and Shane Long working hard in defence. I think it’s possible to get through and I hope for the Irish people we can go to Euro 2012.

What kind of a position are we in to face group favourites Russia on 6 September?

At the moment I will stay thinking about Slovakia because it is a match that is very important before we meet Russia. We will have to deal with Slovakia first of all before we look at Russia.

What do you think about captain Robbie Keane’s decision to continue his career at LA Galaxy in California?

I think it is a good thing – it is good for him and good for us because he can play. The distance is very far and the trip is tough but I think when he comes to Ireland today (Tuesday) he will rest first and then be able to play.”

You don’t believe it is a disadvantage to the Irish team that he now based in America?

No I don’t think so because Robbie Keane is very happy to take the position with LA Galaxy and he is happy there with his family so that means it is better for us.

How important is it to have the Irish football fans get behind the team on this campaign?

We need the Irish supporters because they are very important for us. I remember the first time we arrived in Dublin and played for the first time in Croke Park I was touched to feel the support there and to see the fans at the game.

Would you like to continue in your management role as long as possible?

Yes I wish to continue but I do not know what will happen. Football can be very strange but I wish.

Rep of Ireland will play Slovakia on Friday, 2 September and Armenia on 11 October, 2011 at Dublin’s Aviva Stadium. THG Sports is the sole and exclusive provider for official match day corporate hospitality within the Aviva Stadium. For more info, please contact: info@thguk.com.

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