Uruguay set to march on Aviva

WORLD CUP surprise package Uruguay are coming to Dublin.

The South American nation, who finished fourth in this summer’s finals in South Africa, will play Ireland in a friendly game in the Aviva Stadium on Tuesday March 29 next year, hot on the heels of the Saturday, March 26 European Championship qualifier against Macedonia at the same venue.

Uruguay are currently ranked seventh in the FIFA/Coca Cola world rankings, 26 places above Ireland, and include the Golden Ball winner for best player at the 2010 World Cup, Diego Forlán of Atletico Madrid.

Republic of Ireland manager, Giovanni Trapattoni said: “After playing Brazil and Argentina this year, we now welcome another strong South American side. Having watched Uruguay in this summer’s World Cup, I was impressed by their performance, particularly against the Netherlands in the semi-final when they were narrowly beaten. This game will act as further good preparation for the June qualifier, before our return leg against Macedonia.”

Back on the domestic front, while nobody would ever regard a cup quarter-final as small beer, you can understand why Shamrock Rovers might consider tonight’s game against Galway United at Tallaght Stadium (8pm) as something like welcome relief after the shock 5-1 mauling the league-leaders shipped in Oriel Park.

“After the result on Monday night, we want to get back into action as soon as possible,” says Hoops boss Michael O’ Neill.” It will probably be good for us to have a break from the league. It has been like a pressure cooker for the lads over the last few weeks, and while they have dealt very well with it; it will be good for them to get out of that for a week.

“We had a good meeting with the lads during the week, and looked at the DVD of the Dundalk game; we know we were poor. But the lads are just very keen to get back out there, and there is probably no better game than a cup quarter-final to try and get the momentum back.”

In tonight’s other scheduled last-eight game of the FAI Ford Cup, Bohemians – still keeping up the pressure on Rovers in the league – will be dreaming anew of a double as they take on a rejuvenated Bray Wanderers at Dalymount Park (7.45).

“Two teams in good form will be facing each other,” says Bohs manager Pat Fenlon. “I’m very happy with how we have been playing but Bray have been very good since Pat [Devlin] came in. We have the home draw and it is important for us to try to win the game at home. But we know it’s not going to be easy.”

With Monaghan United not in cup action until tomorrow, Derry City have a chance to regain the lead at the top of the Airtricity First Division tonight when they travel to Flancare Park to play Longford Town (7.45pm).

Tonight’s other First Division fixtures are Limerick v Cork City, Jackman Park (7.45), Mervue United v Waterford, Terryland Park (7.45), Shelbourne v Finn Harps, Tolka Park (8pm) and Wexford Youths v Salthill Devon, Ferrycarrig Park (8pm).

Meanwhile, the striking of the midnight hour will signal the biggest game in the lives of the Irish Women’s U17 team when they take on Japan in the World Cup quarter-final in the Larry Gomes Stadium in Trinidad.

“Hopefully we can go all the way to the final,” says defender Megan Campbell, scorer of Ireland’s first goal in the 3-0 win against Ghana that saw them clinch first place in Group D.

Campbell’s cross-shot might have had a touch of good fortune about it but, as the other two goals in that famous victory proved, the Girls in Green are not afraid to try their luck from distance.

“Long-range shooting comes naturally to this group of girls, and it’s a big part of what we do well,” says Campbell. “We focus on it in practice to try to keep sharp and make it perfect. It’s hard to score goals in football so you have to get them however you can. We just want to keep doing what we’re doing and getting better.”

Tonight’s match will be broadcast by Eurosport and also screened live on rte.ie.


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