No excuses for O'Dea
Darren O'Dea insists the alien conditions in Andorra cannot be used as an excuse if the Republic of Ireland mess up on Friday night.
Ireland head for the tiny Pyrenean principality as overwhelming favourites to claim a Group B victory which would keep alive the fight for automatic qualification for next summer's European Championship finals in Poland and the Ukraine. But the game will be played at altitude and on a less than perfect surface at the Estadi Comunal, and that will present its own problems.
However, 24-year-old on-loan Leeds defender O'Dea is adamant that the conditions should have little bearing on the game. He said: "They are all just excuses. Come the competition, you don't want to be sitting at home complaining about a pitch, you want to be there."
He added: "It might be a problem during the game, but it certainly won't be an excuse after it."
The fixture could hardly be in any more stark contrast to the Republic's last qualifier, a desperately hard-fought 0-0 draw with group leaders Russia in Moscow last month. But while the task of trying to contain Andrey Arshavin and company on the plastic pitch at the Luzhniki Stadium brought its own challenges, there will be a very different set of problems on Friday for O'Dea and his defensive colleagues.
He said: "In Russia, it was backs-against-the-wall for a lot of the game, so you don't need to concentrate as much because you are seeing so much of the ball. There will be times, I am sure, when we will have possession and be attacking, so you need to be concentrated.
"As a player, you want to play in lots of different games and different atmospheres, and this will be another different test, but certainly one we are all looking forward to and one hopefully we can win."
With a manager as pragmatic as Giovanni Trapattoni, there is little danger of complacency creeping into the Irish camp, although the statistics do not suggest Andorra, ranked joint 203rd in the world, have much hope of emerging from the game with anything to show for their efforts.
Their campaign to date has brought eight successive defeats and they have scored only one goal - against Ireland at the Aviva Stadium. O'Dea said: "Besides ourselves, everyone else has warned us of complacency and we have talked about it that much that to be complacent now would be fairly stupid.
"We have come through a massively long campaign where you have to play a lot of games and we have done very well, so to become complacent now would be a little bit stupid so no, it won't be a problem."
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