Giovanni Trapattoni will attempt to book a trip to next summer’s World Cup finals having secured his own future with a new two-year contract as Republic of Ireland boss.
The 70-year-old has agreed a deal with the Football Association of Ireland to remain at the helm until 2012 with his existing deal due to expire next year.
His new contract, as his old one was, has been part-funded by billionaire Denis O’Brien.
The extension represents a reward for Ireland’s performance under his leadership with World Cup qualification a distinct possibility with two games of the Group Eight campaign to play.
Trapattoni, who today named a 27-man provisional squad for next month’s decisive qualifiers against his native Italy and Montenegro, said: “I am delighted to continue my job with the FAI.
“This squad has huge potential. Our results demonstrate what self belief and structure can achieve and I am really looking forward to continuing the work we have begun.”
Trapattoni has had his critics as he has gone about the business of making his side difficult to beat, but his justification is a qualifying campaign which sees his side unbeaten in eight games.
FAI chief executive John Delaney said: “We are very happy to agree a contract extension with Giovanni Trapattoni.
“The players and everyone on the FAI Board of management have been tremendously impressed by the professionalism, dedication and commitment of Giovanni Trapattoni and his team.
“We thank Denis O’Brien for his continuing contribution which will guarantee the services of one of the world’s most successful managers, through until 2012.”
O’Brien’s involvement in Trapattoni’s recruitment last year did not meet with universal approval, but his continued support has allowed the FAI to tie up the immediate future of a man whose influence has helped to create real belief in the national team’s chances of making it to South Africa.
O’Brien said: “When the appointment of Giovanni Trapattoni was announced, we said that hiring the right people would enable us to get the right results.
“In Giovanni, the team has grown in stature and confidence and I am very happy to renew my partnership with the FAI, Giovanni Trapattoni and the Irish squad for the coming campaign.”
On the pitch, Trapattoni sprang few surprises in announcing his squad for the forthcoming games, adding Steven Reid, Paul McShane and Darren O’Dea to the men who did duty in Cyprus earlier this month.
Reid has not played for his country since succumbing to yet another knee injury in September last year, but started Blackburn’s 1-0 Carling Cup victory at Nottingham Forest in midweek as he continued his comeback.
McShane is included following his recovery from knee surgery during the summer, while O’Dea was used as a substitute in the 1-0 friendly victory over South Africa on September 8 after being drafted into the squad as a late replacement.
A point in Dublin would be enough to secure automatic qualification for Italy, while it would also guarantee Ireland the play-off spot if Bulgaria failed to win in Cyprus on the same night.
Marcello Lippi’s side head for Croke Park sitting at the top of Group Eight with 20 points having won two games more than the Irish.
But victory for Trapattoni’s men would send them into the last round of games knowing a home win over Montenegro four days later would book their passage to the finals, provided Cyprus denied the Italians victory in Parma that night.
Republic of Ireland Squad v Italy & Montenegro
Given, Westwood, Murphy, O’Shea, Foley, Dunne, Kelly, Kilbane, Nolan, St Ledger, McShane, O’Dea, McGeady, Duff, Gibson, Whelan, Andrews, Miller, S Hunt, Keogh, S Reid, Lawrence, Foland, Doyle, Keane, Long, Best.