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Ireland hope to raise game against Switzerland

By Jodie Ginsberg
October 11, 2005 11:35 IST
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Ireland know they need to raise their game if they want to beat Switzerland in Wednesday's last World Cup qualifier and have a chance of reaching next year's finals in Germany.

Ireland are one of four teams still in contention for first or second place in Group Four. Victory over the Swiss would guarantee Brian Kerr's side a playoff spot and, if France fail to beat Cyprus, would be enough to win the group.

But the team made heavy weather of Saturday's 1-0 away win over Cyprus, which came courtesy of an early goal by Stephen Elliott, and know they will have a tough task against a buoyant Swiss side at Lansdowne Road.

"It would have been nice to have a good performance and get the three points," said Richard Dunne, who conceded the penalty. "But at this stage in the group the most important thing was to get the three points."

He added: "I feel we've got the squad and capabilities of beating Switzerland."

Ireland had goalkeeper Shay Given to thank for an outstanding performance on Saturday in which he saved Yianniakis Okkas's penalty and withstood sustained pressure from an attacking Cyprus side.

DUFF LOSS

Switzerland, who drew 1-1 with France on Saturday, are relishing a return to Dublin after beating the Irish home and away in their successful qualifying campaign for Euro 2004.

The two sides drew 1-1

when they met in Basel in September last year.

"We've been disappointing against the Swiss and we definitely do owe them one," Dunne said.

Ireland will be without Damien Duff after the Chelsea winger sustained a knee injury.

"It's big loss," Dunne said. "We've got options, we've got cover for Damien, though ... we tend to sit back and see what Damien can produce and maybe with him not there it's up to other players to come forward."

Kerr said Given took a knock in training on Monday but was fully fit and would train on Tuesday.

The manager will welcome the return of defender Gary Breen after a knee injury and striker Clinton Morrison and midfielder Andy Reid following suspension.

The players urged everyone in Ireland to get behind the team following criticism of a squad that has repeatedly made strong early starts in matches but struggled to maintain momentum for the full 90 minutes.

"We've got to be patient," said Charlton Athletic midfielder Matt Holland, who was brought on for the second half against Cyprus. "We don't want to be gung-ho and leave ourselves exposed."
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Jodie Ginsberg
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