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Hughton's Irish diary

Posted on 10 June 2003  - 12:00

Tottenham Hotspur (Spurs) Football Club is located in North London. The club is also known as Spurs. Tottenham's home ground is White Hart Lane. The club motto is Audere est Facere (To dare is to do).

In a special diary feature, our first team coach and Ireland's assistant boss Chris Hughton gives us the inside view into international week in the Irish camp.

Capped 53 times by Ireland, Chris is preparing the squad - including Stephen Carr and Robbie Keane - for Wednesday's crucial Euro 2004 qualifier Georgia having beaten Albania on Saturday.

Speaking last night from Dublin, he now talks us through the win and turning attentions to Georgia...

MATCHDAY with Ireland is very similar to Spurs.

The pre-match meal is very much at the same time, a team meeting just before we left the hotel to show the lads a little more video of Albania and then off to the game.

The only difference is that we travel to the ground on the coach with a police escort and we see all the fans on the way. It's not a lot different.

It wasn't the best of performances against Albania but we got the result and that was the main thing.

On the balance of the play we were the better side. We perhaps didn't play as well as we would have liked to have played. Looking back, we conceded a goal too soon after we scored our first goal and if we were able to hold onto the lead for a bit longer it might have turned out easier for us.

Of course, with it being a qualifier, it was very, very tense out there. There aren't that many games in the group and you've only got four homes games, so those games are the opportunity to pick up results.

The pressure is even more because it's a one-off and we knew we had to get something out of it, a cup-tie situation really. You know of you don't get anything out of the game it will be that much harder to qualify.

Of course, it was great for our Spurs lads out here. Robbie Keane was waiting behind the defender to tap in Gary Doc's shot at the end and if he had done that, that would have capped it - a Spurs one, two, three with Carry playing the ball in, Doc crossing and Robbie finishing. That would have been nice but the lad scored an own goal.

I'm pleased for Doc. He did well to get on the end of the ball over the top, took it in his stride well and got it into the right area. No doubt he'll say he meant it that way anyway!

Training on Sunday was split into two groups. The players who didn't play and needed some work trained with me while we had a recovery session in the swimming pool for the lads who played, a good stretch and a bit of movement in the pool to help them recover from the game. It was all about rest after that.

We were straight back into training on Monday. It was still a light session but they needed to keep their legs going and we need to keep them fresh for Wednesday. The ones who didn't start did a bit more.

The difficulty for us is that the lads had been away from the game for a while and they only really wanted to get into the games. They were out of the pattern of playing games. It's not ideal - the ideal scenario would have been to play a week after the end of the season. They have to get on with it though and I think they've got used to it now.

Georgia will be a difficult game. This is the side of the two that we expected the harder game when we played away. As is worked out, Albania was harder. This is a good technical side and the players are playing at a better technical level at their clubs. We knew how difficult Albania would be going into Saturday and this is no different.