Le Guen offers Trapattoni support


Soccer:Giovanni Trapattoni has received a big message of support from opposite number Paul Le Guen on the eve of the Republic of Ireland’s friendly against Oman.

Trapattoni’s position came into question earlier this summer when the Republic endured a disastrous Euro 2012 campaign which saw them lose all three games and score just one goal.

The Italian’s doubters were given further ammunition on Friday night when Ireland needed two goals in the last two minutes to snatch a win over Kazakhstan, a country ranked 116 places below them on the FIFA ladder.

Le Guen, who took over as Oman head coach last year, is full of praise for Trapattoni, however, pointing to his successful record as a club manager in Italy and Germany as a reason why he thinks it is wrong to start writing the 73-year-old off.

“I really respect (Trapattoni),” Le Guen told a press conference at Craven Cottage today. “When you have such a career, when you succeed at such great clubs as Juventus and Bayern Munich, you can only have respect. It’s great to have such a career and it is not finished.”

Trapattoni had hoped to draw a line under the Republic’s disappointing European Championship campaign this month, but the Italian has instead been busy fighting fires off the pitch.

First Darron Gibson refused a call-up to the squad after being left on the bench throughout Euro 2012, and then James McClean vented his fury at being among the substitutes in Kazakhstan with a foul-mouthed tweet that appeared to be directed at Trapattoni’s management skills.

Le Guen thinks the Republic can take some positives from the game in Astana, however. “It showed they have a great spirit even when they are having difficulties,” the former Rangers boss said.

“They are able to gel and to get a result when they need to and we have to know that. They have a great team spirit, a fighting spirit.”

Oman are ranked 93rd in the world and will use tomorrow’s friendly as a warm-up game for their crunch World Cup qualifier against Jordan next month. The middle-east country have improved a lot since Le Guen took charge last year and there is genuine hope they can come through a tough qualifying group that contains Australia and Japan to make their first World Cup.

Of all the Omani players lining up at Craven Cottage, only one will be familiar to most — Wigan goalkeeper Ali Al-Habsi.

Al-Habsi, who moved to England in 2006, was impressed with the performance of his team-mate James McCarthy in the midfielder’s first start last Friday, and he expects the 21-year-old to have a bright international future ahead of him.

Al-Habsi said: “He is a young, very talented player. He is the most important player for us in Wigan. He is super fit. You can see that when he plays for Wigan he makes a big difference in the team. For him to reach this level and appear with the national team is something brilliant for him.”

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