The draw has been made in the last hour for Ireland’s Qualification Group for the European Championships of 2012. We already knew our opponents, yes, but today’s draw dictates our schedule as to when and where we play our games. The draw was necessary after the Armenian delegation vetoed all agreements at the recent fixtures meeting in Russia. The outcome of today’s draw can be seen here.
This will be said later on this afternoon, but allow me to be one of the first to say the following...FUCK. Everything that Giovanni Trapattoni would not have wanted has been granted.
- The glamorous opponents for Ireland’s first football international at the Aviva Stadium...Andorra.
- We will have to play four different ‘double-headers’ which will involve a game on a Friday night followed by another the next Tuesday evening. All of these involve one game at home and the other away, and on three occasions the squad will have to make long trips between Dublin and countries in Eastern Europe, namely Armenia, Slovakia and Russia.
- We have a match in June, traditionally a time when we struggle due to the relatively early finish to the English season, and it will be away to Macedonia, where the heat will be an isse.
The fixtures can be changed, and there are two free dates. However any such change requires the consent of all of our group opponents, something which is believed to be unlikely given the difficulties encountered in the fixtures meeting in Moscow. Therefore we are likely to be stuck with the hands with which we have been dealt.
Disaster is not the word. Our qualification hopes have just taken an almighty blow.