Sport Soccer

Sunday 31 August 2014

Mind games under way as FAI battle Swedes over roof closure

Daniel McDonnell

Published 19/03/2013 | 05:00

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Giovanni Trapattoni during squad training ahead of Ireland's 2014 FIFA World Cup, Group C, qualifier match against Sweden

The Swedish FA and the FAI are set to go to war before Friday's crucial World Cup qualifier in Stockholm after Giovanni Trapattoni declared his preference for leaving the roof open at the match venue, the Friends Arena.

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Sweden want to close the roof at their newly developed stadium, but the final decision is made by a FIFA delegate, with both associations free to make their case beforehand.

Freezing temperatures as low as -8 are being forecast for the evening, and the Swedes will argue that enclosing the ground will be better for supporters and the game.

However, Trapattoni believes that it will only serve to increase the volume levels from the home crowd, thus making life even more difficult for his charges.

"When it is closed, it has an echo, which is no good," he said. "It is too loud. I was in Germany with this situation before, and it was bad for us because of the crowd."

Trapattoni (above) dismissed the suggestion that the elements could make the game unpleasant for his players, stressing that it would be irrelevant once the game warmed up.

"It would not be cold. The pitch is what's important. It's for the spectators that it will be cold," he said.

Sweden's first two matches at the Arena have been played with the roof closed, but they were friendlies, so it was left up to them to make the call. For a competitive fixture, it comes down to FIFA and they will consider both sides before reaching a verdict.

The Irish camp stepped up their preparations yesterday with a livelier session compared to Sunday, although it was sat out by Glenn Whelan, James McCarthy, John O'Shea and Jon Walters, who are feeling the effects of their weekend endeavours.

Whelan (knee) and Walters (back) have minor ailments but there are no real concerns about their readiness for Friday, although Trap has suggested that the latter will be used as an impact sub, with Shane Long set to start after coming through the session unscathed.

Irish Independent

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