| 9.6°C Dublin

Dark horses Armenia hold key to Ireland's play-off fate

WHILE Giovanni Trapattoni and his side will be focused on events in Moscow today, supporters will be keeping an eye on another crucial game in Group B that could have a huge bearing on the standings, with Slovakia hosting Armenia.

With just three games remaining in the campaign, the group is still very much open.

And while Ireland are still in the race to top the group and secure the only automatic qualifying spot for Euro 2012, the battle for second place -- and the play-offs -- is also very tight.

The Slovaks are currently tied on 14 points with second-placed Ireland. A win for Armenia would bring them level with Vladimir Weiss' side and back into the hunt for the play-offs.

And they'll go into the game full of confidence after their win in Yerevan last October, when second-half goals from Gevorg Ghazaryan and Henrik Mkhitaryan secured a superb 3-1 win for Armenians.

With Russia due to travel to Zilina in the penultimate game of their campaign, Russian boss Dick Advocaat is hoping the Armenians can make life very difficult for the Slovaks.

"There are three points between them. If the Armenians win, they will catch up with the Slovaks and have a real chance to fight for second place. It's good for us as they have a chance and, therefore, they'll be extremely motivated."

Also tonight, Macedonia host Andorra, who are yet to register a point, in the clash of Group B's also-rans.

Irish Independent