| 13.4°C Dublin

Football fans descend on D4 as excitement builds for Euro clash

TENS of thousands of football fans will descend on Dublin tonight for Ireland's crucial Euro 2012 qualifier.

Excitement was building across the city today ahead of the match against Macedonia at the Aviva Stadium.

Ireland manager Giovanni Trapattoni will be desperately hoping for a better performance than against Russia in the last home game, which finished 3-2 to the visitors.

The revamped stadium is still reverberating from Ireland's thrilling Six Nations' rugby victory over England.

Football fans will need to create some of the same atmosphere tonight as striker Robbie Keane and his teammates go in search of a vital result.

A win will put Ireland, who lie second behind Russia in Group B, in a strong position to qualify for the finals in Poland and the Ukraine.

But Macedonia can boast at least one star man -- Goran Pandev of Inter Milan, a Serie A and Champions League winner.

"Pandev is not playing alone. There are good players playing with him who have to play for him to give him the ball, to serve him," Macedonia manager Mirsad Jonuz said.

"Pandev needs to duel with the Irish defenders because they will be very strong for the whole 90 minutes," he added.


Supporters will get a chance to see a number of rookies in action, as three players make their first competitive start for Ireland.

Goalkeeper Keiren Westwood of Coventry replaces the injured Shay Given, while Darren O'Dea of Celtic and Wolves' Kevin Foley also line out.

Westwood said: "There is no bigger game than your debut for nerves but I know this is a massive game and I am really looking forward to it.

"I know there are a few of us making our competitive debuts but we want to go and do every one proud. I am sure the whole nation wants us to do that and wants us to win, they are not going to want us to lose are they?

"So we have their support and we want to do them proud and hopefully get the three points we all want," he added.