Trapattoni happy with early visit to Kazakhstan
GIOVANNI TRAPATTONI was a satisfied man yesterday after the FAI delegation in Frankfurt delivered his wish and ensured that Ireland will start their 2014 World Cup campaign in Kazakhstan next September.
The fixtures meeting for Group C ran smoothly and quickly -- in contrast to Ireland's experience before Euro 2012 qualification kicked off, when no agreement could be reached.
Trapattoni wanted to get one of the long away journeys out of the way early in the campaign, in addition to avoiding any of Ireland's main qualification rivals in September. Therefore, a trip to bottom seeds Kazakhstan is ideal, even if it will be a headache for travelling fans.
Ireland will play only one game in that window, with Germany visiting Lansdowne Road for the next game a month later. That will be followed by the trip to the Faroe Islands.
With Germany the hot favourites to progress as group winners, the expectation is that Ireland will be vying with Sweden and Austria for second place and a spot in the play-offs.
In that regard, a pair of double headers against those opponents in March and September will be absolutely crucial to the outcome.
Ireland will play Germany away on the penultimate day of the campaign before signing off with a home match against Kazakhstan. The Germans will be away to Sweden on the final night.
The key to the successful meeting was UEFA consenting to the group kicking off next June.
Austria will travel to the Faroe Islands on June 6, two days before the Euro 2012 finals kick off in Poland and Ukraine.
Speaking from Italy, Trapattoni expressed his contentment at the order of play.
"This is a good fixture schedule for our team, with a good balance to the matches," he said. "We finish the campaign at home and start with a single away match against Kazakhstan, which was important given the long distances involved.
"I am also happy with the balance obtained in the double headers and the timing of what we would expect to be some of the key matches in the group."
The FAI will also be glad to have the Germany game on the 2012 calendar. It means they will have a money-spinning fixture in Dublin 4 as a bonus to the rewards they will accrue from the journey to Poland and Ukraine.