World Cup in brief: Henry aware of threat posed by Irish
Wednesday 18 November 2009
France v Republic of Ireland
Striker Thierry Henry says his team will not underestimate Ireland in tonight's second leg of their qualifying play-off in Paris, despite the home side going into the game 1-0 up from Saturday's first match. "We have to play as if it is a one-off, we can't think about any advantage we may have," the Barcelona forward said. "It won't be easy. We're not expecting to just go out and to create loads of scoring chances. Ireland are a very hard team to play against."
As many as 25,000 visiting supporters are expected at the Stade de France, hoping to see Ireland reach their first major tournament since 2002, and Henry admits the volume of visiting support could prove influential. "The last time we played in the World Cup qualifiers , there were a lot of Irish. Let's hope it's not the same. It won't be the first time we'll have played in front of a lot of opposing fans."
Portugal hopeful of duo's return to help starve 'hungry wolves'
Bosnia-Herzegovina v Portugal
Defender Bruno Alves, whose goal earned Portugal a 1-0 victory in the first-leg last weekend, should be fit for tonight's return match after shaking off a sprained ankle, while midfielder Deco is also available after recovering from a groin injury. Bosnia defenders Emir Spahic and Samir Muratovic and midfielder Elvir Rahimic are all suspended after picking up yellow cards in Lisbon, although coach Miroslav Blazevic expects a lively atmosphere at the Bilino Polje stadium. "We will launch an onslaught like hungry wolves," he said. "Portugal will be stunned by the atmosphere."
Hiddink maintains attacking stance despite precarious state of tie
Slovenia v Russia
Manager Guus Hiddink maintains his Russia side will not relent on their attacking style of play in Maribor tonight, despite the potential pitfalls that await his side as they attempt to reach next year's World Cup. Nejc Pecnik's late consolation goal during Saturday's 2-1 defeat in Moscow means Slovenia can qualify with a 1-0 win tonight. "Since I've been here we always tried to play aggressive, attacking football," Hiddink said. "It would be against Russian nature to take a cautious, defensive approach."
Mikhailichenko wary of Greek counter-attacks in bid for Cup place
Ukraine v Greece
Ukraine manager Alexei Mikhailichenko has urged his side to be wary of the counter-attacking threat of Greece in tonight's second leg of their qualifying play-off in Donetsk. The hosts hold the advantage after drawing 0-0 on Saturday. "If you analyse the Greek team with [Otto] Rehhagel as coach, they play with the same characteristics every time," Mikhailichenko said. "Greece have a disciplined defence and look for chances to counter attack. We need to be mindful of this." Grigoriy Yarmash [virus] misses out, while Yaroslav Rakitskiy should return for the hosts. Greece have doubts over Giorgos Karagounis and Sotiris Kyrgiakos.
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