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First impression fills Ford with confidence



Graham Ford. Photo: Getty Images

Graham Ford. Photo: Getty Images

AFP/Getty Images

Graham Ford. Photo: Getty Images

New head coach Graham Ford is confident Ireland have the "attitude and character" to defy the odds and qualify for a fourth successive World Cup.

Ford yesterday named a 15-man squad featuring all of the big guns available to him for the "cut-throat" qualification tournament, to be held in Zimbabwe in March.

To reach next year's World Cup - controversially reduced to 10 teams, compared to 14 in recent editions - Ireland will have to finish in the top two of a qualification competition that includes established Test nations West Indies and Zimbabwe, as well as fellow Test newcomers Afghanistan.

Ford recognises the difficulty of the task but is encouraged by the work ethic he has observed from a squad that can boast a total of 1,925 caps.

"Experience is such a vital commodity," said the South African former Sri Lanka coach, who took over from John Bracewell at the back end of last year.

"We have the ability to make it to a fourth final if we play to our potential. I wanted to be involved with a team with a good attitude and with good challenges ahead, where I can make some impact - and that's exactly what Ireland has at the moment."

Irish Independent