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Hughton's Irish diary

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).

Chris Hughton's thoughts from the final three days of Ireland's key Euro 2004 qualifier in Switzerland - a trip that ended in disappointment.

Friday 10th, Saturday 11th and Sunday 12th October

Friday at international level is very similar to what it would be at the club. We had a warm-up, a small-sided game that is generally not too taxing, usually only for about 15 minutes and then went through the set plays. This was all at the main pitch at Basle. We then did a bit of finishing and just kept the players fresh for the Saturday.

We didn't train before the game on Saturday. It's a funny kick-off time, 4.30pm, and we don't usually do anything before a 3pm kick-off. If it's an evening kick-off, we'd do something in the morning. We had a good walk to get the lads up, get some fresh air and stretch the legs.

As for the game itself, I don't think the start did us any favours. The early goal gave them the confidence they needed and gave the crowd the lift. It also meant we needed to score twice and we just didn't get the response. Our best period of the game was the 10 minutes leading up to half-time and if we'd have capitalised, it would have lifted us going into the second half. It wasn't to be and for what reason, we don't really know. Everyone was up for it but it wasn't a good enough performance. If anything, we had the better chances - Connolly, Healy shot wide, Breen's header. To create more chances we needed to keep the ball for longer periods, which we didn't do and we conceded again.

There is not a lot you can say afterwards. Everyone was devastated. That is where international football is different to club football because at the club you will see the lads the next day and have another game within the next week. You have that chance to bounce back straight away. At club level you would say more afterwards as well but when you know all the lads are going back to their respective clubs, it's difficult.

Saturday night we had a drink! Everyone is down, you talk about the game, have a meal and a drink with a meal. You are not in the mood to do anything else. You just try to unwind.

We actually left quite late on Sunday, a 1pm flight. There is always the difficulty of sleeping after a game and that being the case, it wasn't too bad that we came home a little later.

It's disappointing because you desperately want to qualify for these finals. It's a wonderful platform to perform in. We weren't a good enough team to get there, that is fact, and it's a big loss for the lads but I'm confident we'll bounce back.


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