THE REPUBLIC of Ireland’s hopes of qualifying for Euro 2012 were given a major boost yesterday after Uefa confirmed Giovanni Trapattoni’s side as one of the seeded teams ahead of today’s play-off draw.
Ireland secured second spot in Group B following Tuesday’s jittery 2-1 home win over Armenia and will now avoid the likes of Portugal, Croatia and the Czech Republic.
Their opponents in the draw in Krakow will be chosen from Turkey, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Estonia and Montenegro, runners-up to England in Group G, who are the four unseeded teams.
Seeded teams will no longer be guaranteed the second leg at home however – that rule was scrapped after the Republic’s controversial defeat to France in the 2010 World Cup play-of, which saw a Thierry Henry handball in the build up to William Gallas’ decisive goal deny Ireland a place in South Africa.
EURO 2012 | PLAY-OFF GUIDE
Seeded teams: Portugal, Croatia, Czech Republic of Ireland.
Unseeded teams: Turkey, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Estonia and Montenegro.
Play-off dates: First-legs to be played on 11 and 12 November, second-legs to be played on 15 November.
Already qualified: Poland, Ukraine, Germany, Italy, England, Holland, Spain, Denmark,Sweden, Greece, Russia, France.