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Faroes fear a backlash

EVEN the Faroes are having a giggle at our expense.

Their boss Lars Olsen believes his side has narrowed the gap on their more illustrious opponents in Group C.

"We played in Iceland and we could have had a draw there. Then we lost 3-0 in Germany, but maybe that's not so bad after what we saw a few days ago," he said jokingly.

Olsen, a member of the Denmark team which against the odds became European champions in 1992, admitted he was surprised at Ireland's capitulation against the Germans.

He said: "Yes, a little bit, not that Germany won, but 6-1 is a big victory -- or defeat."

Despte his mirth, Olsen has warned his players to expect a Republic of Ireland backlash as manager Giovanni Trapattoni fights to save his job.

Speculation is mounting that the 73-year-old's days as Ireland manager are numbered regardless of what happens at the Torsvollur Stadium in Torshavn tonight, as the FAI sifts through the wreckage of Friday night's 6-1 hammering by Germany.

However, Olsen insists that whatever the disarray within the green ranks in the run-up to what is a must-win affair for the Irish if they are to retain any hope of making the World Cup finals in Brazil in 2014, his team has to be prepared for their response on the pitch.

Asked if he was aware of the pressure under which his opposite number is working, he said: "Yes, of course I know that.

"When you lose 6-1 at home in a country like Ireland, of course you will be under pressure.

"We know Ireland are the favourites, as Sweden were, but we will try to do our best.

"The Faroe Islands are a small team and almost every team we are playing against will be the favourites against us.

"It's a new team, the coach from Ireland, Trapattoni, is a very old guy in the game and I am sure he has told the players, 'Okay, now we start a new game, you have to do your best'.

"I am sure we will have a very tough game."

Olsen has been in charge of just three games since taking up his new job eight months ago, and has presided over a 2-0 friendly defeat in Iceland, a 3-0 qualifier reverse in Germany and Friday night's near miss against Sweden, when the visitors needed to come from behind to win thanks to a 75th-minute strike from Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

The former Brondby defender said: "We played in Iceland and we could have had a draw there -- it was a chess game -- and then we lost 3-0 in Germany, but maybe that's not so bad after what we saw two days ago.

"Then we played a very good match against Sweden, so we have confidence and the gap is maybe a little bit closer than before the games."

Rogvi Baldvinsson had given the Faroes the lead 12 minutes after the break and it needed Alexander Kacaniklic and Ibrahimovic to dig the Swedes out of a hole and dash home hopes.

Olsen said: "Just after the game, the players were disappointed because we deserved a point, we thought. But after that they knew, and also heard from everyone here on the Faroe Islands, that they had played a good game and the mood came up quickly later in the evening."

Olsen is philosophical over his side's chances of making an impact, but is committed to improving his players technically -- tonight's game will be the second to be played on the newly laid artificial surface at the national stadium.

But he knows from his own playing days that anything can happen in football. Asked about his ambitions, he said: "To be better as a team. I don't look at the results or the points because we will not be the favourites in any game.

"But to improve ourselves over the next two years, to be more confident with the ball and to come closer to very good results -- and a good result for the Faroe Islands is, of course, to win a match.

"Every game -- and also against Ireland -- when we go on to the pitch, I think we can win.

"There's '92 and also I played at Brondby and we were in the semi-final of the European Cup with a small Danish team, so everything can be done."