Wednesday 21 March 2018

Giggs relishing chance to take on O'Neill and Keane

Wales manager Ryan Giggs. Photo: Athena Pictures/Getty Images
Wales manager Ryan Giggs. Photo: Athena Pictures/Getty Images
Daniel McDonnell

Daniel McDonnell

Ryan Giggs caught up with his old pal Roy Keane for a coffee yesterday morning. And the rookie Welsh boss was also joined at the breakfast table by Martin O'Neill who offered some friendly advice on management.

They will meet again sooner than they might have anticipated after the UEFA Nations League draw ensured that Giggs and O'Neill will lock horns later this year.

Giggs' first meaningful game in charge will be the visit of Ireland to Cardiff on September 6 - with the return pencilled in for a month later in Dublin.

While Ireland have an incentive to get one over on Denmark, the sight of Ireland brings back painful memories for Wales after James McClean's winner last October ended their Russian hopes.

There was a theme of reunions that hung over proceedings in Switzerland and Giggs (right) was aware of it. His morning discussion with Keane was only the starter.

"I know them both well," said Giggs. "Especially Roy. We had a coffee this morning at breakfast and I'm looking forward to pitting my brains against them both; they are tremendous football people.

"As a player, Roy was outstanding. If I was ever to pick a team, Roy would be the first on the team-sheet because of what he brought - not just on the pitch but off the pitch - his winning mentality, his quality.

"Off the pitch, he's someone who helps younger players and he drives the older players if they're not pulling their weight. And he'll take that into his coaching too. Martin is a football man who has been so successful in his managing career and playing career.

"We did speak about (potential draw). There was a big chance we'd get either the Northern Ireland or the Republic. We're drawn against players we know, a country we played recently and had disappointment against. There's a lot of analysis we need to do before that.

"I wasn't part of that (October) but I watched the game. The players were disappointed. I don't know about revenge but you don't often get a chance to play teams again so quickly at international football so there's a chance to get a better result.

"It's two teams who know each other well, two coaches who know each other well, and Roy as well. I'm excited to be pitting my brains against a manager who has been successful."

Like his Irish counterpart, Giggs has to move quickly to tie down dual nationality players that are wanted by others.

Wales have actually stolen a march on the FAI by getting a firm commitment from Ethan Ampadu, the son of ex-Irish U-21 international Kwame, who has broken through at Chelsea.

In reality, Ireland were third on the player's list. His mother is Welsh, and he grew up in England and both nations have made a move for his services.

Wales appear to have won the day, and they have fasttracked Ampadu up to senior level and he has suggested that he's not for turning.

"He's still young, still learning, but he's got a lot of quality," said Giggs.

"He's getting more and more game-time for Chelsea and is an exciting player. We've a lot of good young players, but they need game-time in the coming months."

Irish Independent

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