Mick McCarthy insisted yesterday that Ireland cannot afford to lose their opening World Cup clash. The Irish boss believes Germany are the favourites to emerge from Group E – but he says Ireland’s hopes of reaching the knockout stages depend on how they do against Cameroon on June 1 in Niigata.
Two countries go through to the second round from the Group.
« We will go out to win the game, but it’s very important that we don’t get beaten, » he said.
« If we did, the match with Germany would take on more significance and it would be even harder for us. « We have to remember Cup three times. » Germany are vastly experienced – but we won’t be saying we fear them.
« When we play them we will respect them, but we don’t fear any of the other teams. McCarthy believes that African Nations Cup holders Cameroon are better side than Nigeria – who beat Ireland in Dublin last week.
« To me, that’s our hardest game, » he said. « The first game is of much more significance than the others. » The aim is not to get beaten in the first game. « I wouldn’t say that a draw against Cameroon is a badthey have won the World result, because I would be foolish to do that. »
All of the Irish players trained in Saipan yesterday after Jason McAteer and Matt Holland sat out the first session on Sunday with an ankle strain and sore throat respectively. They used a football for the first time yesterday at the Ada Gym facility and trained in the hottest, most humid conditions.
« We’re coping very well with it and it’s about how quickly the lads recover. « We will see how they are over the next few days, » McCarthy said.
The Irish supremo put the emphasis on running on Sunday, but yesterday he watched them go through their paces in a knockabout.
« They had to stop, start and chase the ball, » he explained. « It’s more tiring in these conditions. »
McAteer’s ankle was strapped up after the session, but McCarthy insisted that he is fine and that the strapping was simply a precaution after he took a full part in training. « He might need the odd day off, but he’s okay, » added the manager.