Weiss: Past counts for nothing

Vladimir Weiss will not rely on his enviable record against Italians as he attempts to guide Slovakia past the Republic of Ireland tomorrow night.

Vladimir Weiss will not rely on his enviable record against Italians as he attempts to guide Slovakia past the Republic of Ireland tomorrow night.

Weiss guided his country to a famous 3-2 win over Italy at the World Cup finals in South Africa last summer, and then masterminded club side Slovan Bratislava’s 2-1 aggregate victory over Roma in this season’s Europa League play-offs.

He will go head to head with Giovanni Trapattoni tomorrow night as the Slovakians take on Ireland with three precious Euro 2012 qualifying points up for grabs, but he insists what has happened in the past will count for nothing at the Aviva Stadium.

Weiss, who combines his club and international duties, said: “We won’t be playing tomorrow against Italy, we will be playing against Ireland.

“Trapattoni is a great coach and I respect him very much.”

Weiss was giving little away as he prepared to put his players through their paces at the Aviva Stadium this evening with a question mark hanging over the fitness of skipper Marek Hamsik.

The Napoli midfielder is understood to have had injections in his knee to allow him to play for his club recently, but that came as news to his international manager.

Weiss said: “You obviously have more information from Italy than I do.

“If Marek says after training that he is all right, he will play. It’s up to him.”

Trapattoni had earlier admitted he would only believe that Hamsik would not be involved when he saw the teamsheet without his name on it, but Weiss was rating the player’s chances at 50-50 this evening.

The Italian had revealed earlier in the day that West Brom’s Shane Long and not Wolves’ Kevin Doyle would partner skipper Robbie Keane in attack – perhaps a reflection of the problems he caused the Slovakians in the 1-1 draw in Zilina in October.

Weiss, however, refused to be drawn when asked if he was surprised at Long’s selection.

He said: “If he [Trapattoni] puts Shane Long on the pitch, it’s his decision. He’s a good player in excellent form.”

Ireland, Slovakia and Russia are level on 13 points at the top of Group B with the qualifying campaign coming to a head.

The Republic are approaching tomorrow night’s encounter as a must-win affair, but Weiss too is gunning for all three points.

He said: “Tomorrow’s game is very important, but all three teams have the same chance at the moment, so it is hard to say.

“We are here to fight for the three points. Everything is open and I think it will be an open match.

“It will be very hard, but I believe there will be a goal. The Irish team is very good in defence and in the last few games, they have not conceded many goals.

“But I believe we will manage.”

While Ireland travel to Moscow for a potentially decisive game on Tuesday evening, Slovakia will face Armenia in Zilina desperate to avenge their 3-1 defeat in Yerevan in October.

But, asked if he believed the next few days would prove decisive in the group, Weiss replied: “No, I don’t think so.”

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