IRELAND’S FOOTBALL STARS say they’re up for the challenge of taking on some of the game’s heavy-hitters.
The Boys in Green have been drawn with Italy, Spain and Croatia.
“It is a tough draw. We said before privately we would have taken the host nations but we have drawn the world champions, the current holders, and to play a team like that will be fantastic,” said Keith Andrews.
“But we’ve drawn the world champions and the current holders. You know, to pit yourself against a team like that is great but the draw could have been kinder, no doubt about it.”
And the Ipswich man is looking forward – alongside his midfield partner Glenn Whelan – to taking on world champions Xavi and Iniesta of Spain.
“Yeah absolutely. If you can’t look forward to games like that, pitting yourself against the best players, and one of the best players to have played, there’s something wrong,” he told Darragh Maloney.
“We’ve come together nicely over the last few years as a squad, I’m sure by the time that game comes around we’ll be fully focused and aware of their strengths.”
Wolves striker, Kevin Doyle, meanwhile insists he’s looking forward to the challenge.
“It could have been easier, it makes you realise what you’re involved in. The reigning champions, Italy, Croatia… they’re pretty decent teams. You know it’s not going to be easy but we have good confidence over the past couple of years so we fancy out chances.”
Italy coach Cesare Prandelli told reporters: “I wanted to avoid Giovanni Trapattoni. Spain are very strong, for the first game against them we must arrive mentally prepared.”