THE MORNING AFTER the night before and Giovanni Trapattoni continued to defend the tactics and system that left Ireland’s World Cup chances hanging by a thread.
Ireland went down with a whimper as goals from Johan Elmander and Andreas Svensson ensured that Sweden left Dublin with a 2-1 win and three points that moved them into pole position in the race for Group C’s runner-up spot.
Ireland remain in fourth, level on points with Austria ahead of Tuesday’s meeting between the countries.
Jon Walters (ankle), Shane Long (dead leg) and Glenn Whelan (muscle strain) are all carrying slight knocks but are expected to be fit for the trip to Vienna.
“If I think about the game I think we did not deserve to lose,” Trapattoni said after training in Malahide this morning.
But in football whoever has the opportunities scores and in the second half we did not have many opportunities to achieve a draw.
Simon Cox and Paul McShane train in Malahide this morning (INPHO/Donall Farmer)
Once Svensson gave Sweden the lead in the 57th minute with a low drive that beat David Forde at his near post, Ireland struggled to create clear-cut chances.
Simon Cox and Anthony Pilkington both came off the bench in the final quarter, the latter making his international debut, while Robbie Brady and Wes Hoolahan were left kicking their heels on the sideline.
“Cox is clever,” Trapattoni said as he explained his logic. “He is intelligent, he can go inside and he can score because he plays sometimes in this position for his club.
Brady is a creative player. I know him very well, but against these physical players in this situation, [Sweden] had control of the game.
It’s the same with Hoolahan. We needed different players. Brady does not score goals, very few goals. Other players score goals.
As the long-ball tactics and attempts to force an equaliser fell short, Trapattoni admitted that his side looked flat.
“The morale was down psychologically. We lost confidence and trust that we could recover and we were a little bit impotent. Psychologically the players lost the situation.
“We started very well but when we conceded the two goals, we lost trust. It happens sometimes with young players.
“We tried but we lost confidence that we can [do this]. It’s strange because usually in front of our supporters we have more enthusiasm. Physically they were superior to us.”
Now his task is to rally his players for Tuesday, a game which Ireland must win if they are to keep their mathematical chances alive ahead of the final two qualifiers against Germany and Kazakhstan next month.
“This morning I spoke to them and said, ‘When you play in the league, if you lose the game you start next game with same enthusiasm.’ I said we must begin the next game with the same enthusiasm, the same attitude, the same mentality.
“It is a difficult position but in these three games, anything can happen.
“I will consider one or two changes, sure, maybe also three. We need a fresh energy.
“Tomorrow when I name the squad you will know.”