REPUBLIC of Ireland manager Giovanni Trapattoni has warned his players not to take qualification for their first major tournament in a decade for granted.
Ireland take a commanding 4-0 lead into the second leg of their play-off against Estonia tonight in Dublin, with a place at Euro 2012 seemingly assured.
But Trapattoni said: “I have said to the team to be careful. It will not be an easy game. It is another 90 minutes for our opponents. They lost some pride and it is important that we play with the same seriousness.”
Estonia’s improbable task is made all the harder by the absence of a trio of suspended players: goalkeeper Sergei Pareiko and defenders Andrei Stepanov and Raio Piiroja.
Trapattoni will replace injured full-back Stephen Kelly with John O’Shea, while striker Kevin Doyle is available again after serving a ban. Winger Damien Duff picked up a rib injury in Tallinn but trained yesterday.
Ireland’s players stand to share a £3.4m bonus if they clinch a place at next summer’s finals, although captain Richard Dunne insists the money is no incentive.
“We all make enough money at our clubs and playing for Ireland is an honour, it’s not about money,” he said. “Footballers want to play in tournaments and this is a really big tournament. To go and represent Ireland in it is going to be something that money can’t buy.”