Republic of Ireland manager Giovanni Trapattoni sounded quietly confident the draw for the 2012 European Championships was made on Sunday.
Trap’s men were pitted with the following teams in Group B:
Russia, Slovakia, Macedonia, Armenia, Andorra
"We will start with the same mentality we had three months ago against France," Trapattoni told Sky Sports News. "If we begin with the same mentality, we have the possibility to qualify."
"I think all the groups for me are about equal," he continued. "It's a tough group but other groups are also tough.
"Russia will be difficult and Slovakia. Slovakia are a technically good team and they are a team with a very tough mentality."
Whether Russia can hold on to Guus Hiddink as manager will have a major bearing on their hopes of qualification.
Hiddink’s name comes up every time a big club sacks its manager, and a full time return to club football would suit Ireland very nicely.
Slovakia is the only team in the group that will be taking part in the World Cup finals in South Africa this summer.
Ironically, their participation in the biggest tournament of all may be advantageous to Ireland.
Many international teams endure tough early qualifying games after the "hangover" from a major international tournament, and if Ireland can get Slovakia away in one of the first fixtures, they could take advantage of post Word Cup fatigue.
All in all, a fair test of a group. We will see whether the battle-scarred Irish team can emerge from the French game a more cohesive unit, and if they can channel the frustration felt that night to qualify outright for Euro 2012 at the first attempt.
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