FAI target €8m jackpot as Trap warns against complacency
Published 14/10/2011 | 05:00
UNFANCIED Estonia stand between Ireland and a place in next summer's European Championships, with the FAI on the verge of an €8m jackpot.
Giovanni Trapattoni was keen to play down expectations after yesterday's play-off draw in Krakow, but he will surely be pleased that his charges have landed the lowest-ranked team in the draw.
Qualification for next summer's finals in Poland and Ukraine would bring a minimum of €8m into the association, with further bonuses to follow.
And it would also ensure a new contract for Trapattoni, although he needs to pass this hurdle to secure an extension, with FAI CEO John Delaney stating that no talks will take place until Ireland's Euro 2012 fate is clear.
In reality, it would be difficult for the FAI to award the Italian a new deal if his team fell short against Estonia, who are ranked 58th in the world and have never qualified for a major tournament.
Nevertheless, they finished ahead of Serbia and Slovenia -- who both appeared at the 2010 World Cup -- to make this stage.
Trapattoni has warned against complacency, and only admitted to happiness that the second leg will take place in Dublin on Tuesday, November 15. The first leg takes place in Tallinn four days earlier.
"Let's not delude ourselves that we have made the finals already," said Trapattoni. "I do not ignore the threat that this team represents. The players will know this and I know this."
However, former Irish boss and current Faroe Islands supremo Brian Kerr expects Ireland to advance. His minnows scored a home victory over Estonia in this campaign and were minutes away from doing the same in Tallinn.
"They were the fourth best in the group, who managed to reach the play-offs by catching other teams on the hop," said Kerr.
"Estonia are an effective unit, but they don't have great players so you'd think Ireland would have a little bit too much quality."