Sunday, June 17, 2012

Duff pride at Ireland captaincy

Damien Duff says he will be a proud man when he leads Republic of Ireland out in their final Euro 2012 clash with Italy in Poznan.

Ireland go into Monday's match with only pride at stake following back-to-back defeats to Croatia and Spain.

However, it will be a special game for the Fulham winger, who will make his 100th international appearance. The 33-year-old has been handed the captain's armband to mark the achievement.

"It's obviously an awfully proud moment, but I would take three points ahead of 100 caps at the minute," Duff told gathered news sport reporters at Ireland’s training base in the Polish city of Gdynia.

"I know how much it means to myself and my family and what have you, but I am not trying to make a big deal out of it. I just want to get on with the game and hopefully do the business."

Giovanni Trapattoni's side went into the tournament unbeaten in 14 soccer games but have struggled to replicate their qualifying form in front of the watching world in Poland.

Despite calls for wholesale changes, Trapattoni makes only one alteration to the side that lost 4-0 to Spain last time out.

Kevin Doyle replaces Simon Cox in attack. Doyle played in the opening 3-1 defeat by Croatia but Cox came in for the second group game.

The likes of Duff and Robbie Keane have been offered an opportunity to regain lost pride, in what could well be their final tournament appearance. The stand-in skipper is determined to end on a high.

"What went wrong in this tournament? I don't know, I suppose you can just say we weren't good enough when it came to the crunch," added Duff.

"They were two very disappointing results and we are looking to restore a bit of pride."

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