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The following is Ireland's official squad for the 2002 World Cup as selected by Irish manager Mick McCarthy. The Republic of Ireland are currently ranked 18 in the FIFA world rankings, and are hot favourites to win the first qualifying group, group E, ahead of Germany, Cameroon and Saudi Arabia.

Former Irish manager Jack Charlton has commented that he strongly suspects Ireland will enjoy a longer stay in the tournament than old rivals England.

Another former manager, John Giles, reckons that the toughest match we will face in the group will be against Cameroon who have a particularly strong side this time round. Personally I would agree with this seeing as Germany are not the threat they used to be in previous outings. They also recently suffered a humiliating defeat at the hands of Wales( insert gagged laughter here ).

The Squad

Goalkeepers: Shay Given (Newcastle United), Alan Kelly (Blackburn Rovers), Dean Kiely (Charlton Athletic).

Defenders: Steve Finnan (Fulham), Ian Harte (Leeds United) Gary Kelly (Leeds United), Steve Staunton (Aston Villa), Kenny Cunningham (Wimbledon), Richard Dunne (Manchester City), Gary Breen (Coventry City), Andy O'Brien (Newcastle United).

Midfielders: Roy Keane (Manchester United),Mark Kinsella (Charlton Athletic), Matt Holland (Ipswich), Kevin Kilbane (Sunderland), Mark Kennedy (Wolverhampton Wanderers), Lee Carsley (Everton), Jason McAteer (Sunderland).

Forwards: Robbie Keane (Leeds United), Damien Duff (Blackburn Rovers), Niall Quinn (Sunderland), Clinton Morrison (Crystal Palace), David Connolly (Wimbledon).

The Fixtures

Group 6 (First Round) fixtures for Ireland :
01 Jun, 15:30, Republic of Ireland V Cameroon @ Niigata
05 Jun, 20:30, Germany V Republic of Ireland @ Ibaraki
11 Jun, 20:30, Saudi Arabia V Republic of Ireland @ Yokohama

/me will be travelling to Japan on the 26th of May to follow Ireland's progress throughout the cup with family and friends. We will be staying at the various match locations in Japan (and hopefully Korea) for the duration of Ireland's stay in the world cup. I will be posting pics and logs of our travels and tribulations at www.firesmoke.org if anyone is interested in our progress. Irish people+ Beer+ Football+ Japan=Fun Pictures. Watch this space.


Info from bbc.co.uk and official FIFA website.
Addendum: As you probably know, Keane got sent home from Saipan amidst a storm of controversy, before he even kicked a match ball, thusly scuppering Ireland's chances of World Cup victory.

C'mon, you know we would have won it with him on our side!

Mick McCarthy was also sacked as Irish manager after the world cup following a string of losses in the qualifying group for the upcoming European Championship. Ahhh, the fickle Irish fans strike yet again. Who will be next in line? Will Keane return to the squad again? Watch this space.

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