Doolin fumes at Portuguese after stadium training row
PAUL DOOLIN'S Ireland U-19s yesterday received a frosty Portuguese welcome ahead of today's opening UEFA elite stage qualifier against the hosts.
Portuguese officials refused Doolin's request for his squad to train at the match venue in Olhao on the eve of the game, prompting the FAI to escalate the matter to UEFA.
Eventually, Doolin's charges were allowed access to the venue, but the stand-off had the Irish boss fuming.
"Portugal already have a huge advantage by hosting the mini-group and then they try stopping us from training at the match venue," said Doolin, who is attempting to steer Ireland to a second successive UEFA finals, which take place in Estonia in July.
"I'm sure the Portuguese squad have played there before and all we wanted for our lads was to get them familiar with the stadium where they'll be playing the most important international so far of the season."
The Irish have two more ties in the group over the next six days, against Ukraine and Israel, but this encounter against the top seeds will be pivotal.
"In each of the last four tournaments, be it qualifiers or the finals in Romania last July, we've won our first game," said Doolin.
"With only the top side from the four going through, defeat would leave us in an extremely tough situation but I'm confident we can get something from Portugal."
Doolin has no injury concerns to contend with, reporting his charges to be tip-top condition.
They've spent the last five days at the Estrela da Luz training facility, the venue Giovanni Trapattoni used on his first assignment with the Irish squad in 2008.
Ireland U-19s (Probable) -- S McDermott (Arsenal); M Barker (Bohemians), N Byrne (Rochdale), T Hoban (Watford), D Williams (Aston Villa); S Carruthers (Aston Villa), J O'Sullivan (Blackburn Rovers), B Garmston (West Brom); S Murray (Watford), A O'Brien (Millwall), A Forde (Wolves).