Ireland v Cyprus is a crucial game for manager Trappatoni
Three points from the game against the Cypriots could virtually guarantee second place
“If you want to find a massive stick to beat yourself with as an Irish footballer, then Cyprus it is,” a forthright Kilbane told Star Sunday.
“If we are honest about it then there isn’t an Irish player, official or supporter who was there that night who wasn’t scarred by that Cyprus result in 2006.
“It hurt a lot that night and everyone felt it so much, players more than anyone. It hurt at the time and it still hurts. Whenever we are together as players and talk about it that pain comes rushing back.”
Happy to talk about his Nicosia nightmare before the return event, Kilbane insists the talking will stop in the build-up to the game.
Trapattoni has already placed his team on a war footing ahead of the latest battle of wits against the “provocative” Cypriots, and Kilbane is well aware of what’s at stake in the foothills of the Mediterranean capital.
“The last visit there is going to be brought up so many times this coming week and that is only natural, but as players we cannot afford to get caught up in it,” warned the experienced Hull midfielder now Ireland’s first choice left-back.
Trapattoni, meanwhile, will eye top place in the Group Eight table and automatic qualification when he steps onto the pitch at the GSP Stadium before the game.
The Ireland boss is convinced that his native Italy will slip up against Georgia on Saturday or Bulgaria next Wednesday before their October visit to Dublin.
The Italians currently top the Group Eight table, but three wins from the remaining fixtures he regards as “three cup finals” will have Trapattoni laughing at his own country’s expense.
Trap has repeatedly warned his Irish players to beware of provocation and intimidation from a Cypriot side who felt they deserved a draw in Dublin 11 months ago.
But he also knows there is a major reward in store for his team if they can take three points from Nicosia and set themselves up for an October epic against Italy.
“We have to play our own game and forget about everyone else. If we win in Cyprus –- then the possibility is there for us to overtake Italy when we come face to face in Croke Park,” said Trapattoni.
“Plus Italy also have to play Bulgaria again and they have no guarantee of winning that so I am not giving up on anything.”
CELTIC’S Irish winger Aiden McGeady is the latest player involved in a diving row after he was sent off at Hibs on Sunday, but manager Tony Mowbray has claimed his player is no cheat.
McGeady was in the wars just days after Arsenal striker Eduardo conned a penalty against Celtic in the Champions League and now faced disciplinary action from UEFA.
McGeady was handed a second yellow card for diving and then a red when he went down under a challenge from defender Paul Hanlon as a goal from Georgios Samaras secured a 1-0 win at Easter Road.
Celtic boss Mowbray was unhappy with the McGeady decision. “If the Eduardo situation had not been blown up so big nationally, 99 times out of 100, maybe even 100 out of 100, it would never have been a yellow card,” he said.
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