Football: England Don't Scare Us SAYS REP. OF IRELAND NO.2 CHRIS HUGHTON; WORLD CUP 2006 QUALFIERS DRAW: Friday, Frankfurt, 4.05pm

Sunday Mirror (London, England), November 30, 2003 | Go to article overview

Football: England Don't Scare Us SAYS REP. OF IRELAND NO.2 CHRIS HUGHTON; WORLD CUP 2006 QUALFIERS DRAW: Friday, Frankfurt, 4.05pm


INTERNATIONAL football has taken Chris Hughton around the block more than once, but right now he'd love it to drop him home.

The former Republic defender is hoping for a kind draw this Friday when the World Cup 2006 qualifying groups are decided - with a trip to England top of the list.

It's not that the Irish assistant manager has jumped ship, but after 12 years and 53 caps of international duty spent in hotel rooms from Israel to Chile, he's had enough.

If air miles were Euros, he's sure he would have retired by now.

In the last qualifying campaign Ireland and their fans had to endure arduous trips to Albania and Georgia, but this time Ireland could conceivably face Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and England in the one group.

England are likely to be one of the top seeds according to UEFA's rankings, with the Republic among the second seeds.

Completing the expected No.1 seeds are France, Spain, Italy, Turkey, Czech Republic, Sweden and Portugal.

Hughton reckons Sweden are perhaps the softest of those, but if it's England then bring 'em on for David Beckham and Co are one side the Republic don't fear.

London-born Hughton has faced the Auld enemy on three occasions and knows the elation of victory more than most, having been part of the side that famously won in Stuttgart in the 1988 European Championships.

He admitted: "When you face England you know you are going to be up against a quality team but you also know that with Ireland the confrontation is going to be extra special.

"If we were to be drawn against England it would certainly motivate the players that bit extra.

"If you look at the games we've played against England over the last 15 years they have all been very tight affairs. Even though they'd seem a lot stronger on paper, the games have always been even in performance and score.

"We certainly don't fear England.

"I was involved in a game against England in 1980 when we lost 2-0 in a Euro Championship qualifier, and then played again when we lost a friendly in 1985. But things have changed since then and we have not been beaten in those 18 years.

"It would be a very big game for both the players and the fans and with all of our players based in England too it would be a wonderful feeling to win. I am sure I'd be able to tell them just how good it was."

Hughton is not only happy to draw England for emotive reasons - as logistics play a large part in which opposition a team would like to draw - but he would also be delighted with the added support.

He added "Looking at the draw the aspects of travelling certainly come into play a lot. …

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Football: England Don't Scare Us SAYS REP. OF IRELAND NO.2 CHRIS HUGHTON; WORLD CUP 2006 QUALFIERS DRAW: Friday, Frankfurt, 4.05pm
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