Marco Tardelli has ordered the Republic of Ireland’s players to forget about the euphoria of their performances against England and Georgia as they prepare to return to World Cup battle.
Ireland will host the Faroe Islands on Friday evening with three precious qualification points at stake, and knowing they can afford no slip-up if they are to keep alive their dreams of making it to next summer’s finals in Brazil.
They will head into the clash with the Group C strugglers brimming with confidence after a 1-1 draw at Wembley and a comprehensive 4-0 dismissal of the 10-man Georgians on Sunday.
However, assistant manager Tardelli has warned the players that will count for nothing on Friday evening.
He said: “England was very important, but the big match is Ireland v the Faroes as it’s a match to qualify for Brazil.
“We need to forget the matches against England and Georgia and focus on this match.
“But the players have worked very hard in training and are thinking of this match.”
Both Tardelli and manager Giovanni Trapattoni would settle for a repeat of Sunday’s performance against Georgia in which the Republic overwhelmed Temuri Ketsbaia’s side in the wake of keeper Giorgi Loria’s 20th-minute dismissal.
However, the Faroes initially proved tough to break down in the reverse fixture in Torshavn in October last year before Ireland ran out 4-1 victors, and Tardelli is expecting another difficult test.
He said: “We want to play the same, but we have different opponents.
“Against the Faroes, we need to take the ball and play the ball – we need players with this quality.
“It’s possible to play like we did against Georgia, but sometimes it is difficult.”
That said, the mood within the camp is high with the players going through their paces in glorious sunshine in Malahide this morning.
Central defender Richard Dunne sat out as a precaution after playing his first football for a year as a second-half substitute against Georgia, while keeper David Forde and full-back Marc Wilson trained in the gym as they continued their recovery from knee and hamstring problems respectively.
Tardelli said: “Richard is here with us and he has recovered well. I think it is possible that he plays against the Faroes or against Spain.
“But today, he was rested and it’s good for him to be here. Today he was rested because he played the first important match after one year and it’s normal to rest.
“Wilson had a little problem when he arrived here, and now we want to let him rest for one day and then he is okay. Also Forde.
“There are many young players and they understand everything is possible and they can play against Spain, Faroes, Georgia and England.
“They believe in us and they have started to believe in our team.”
For all much of the talk over the last week or so has been about Trapattoni’s young players, one of his senior statesmen will take centre-stage on Friday.
Robbie Keane, 32, will win his 126th cap if, as expected, he leads the side out, and that will establish a new record for Ireland.
Keane is also the nation’s leading scorer with 56 goals, and former defender Tardelli is well aware of his enduring threat.
He said: “Robbie has big experience and it’s difficult to play against him - also for me when I was a player. I’m joking!
“For us, he’s very important. Against Georgia when he came on the pitch, the team changed.
“The team knows he has good experience and knows he is always there when they need him, and that is very important.
“What he has done in his career shows what a good player he is. He is good for football and the Irish team.”