Republic to face France

Image: Trapattoni: Difficult test

Republic of Ireland must overcome France in the play-offs if they are to take their place in the World Cup.

Difficult draw for Trapattoni's men

Republic of Ireland must overcome France in the World Cup play-offs if they are to take their place in next summer's tournament. Giovanni Trapattoni's men mounted a strong challenge for automatic qualification as they went unbeaten through their Group 8 campaign. They eventually had to settle for second place behind defending World Cup champions Italy and have now learned they must face France, who lost in the 2006 final. Trapattoni insisted last week that he did not fear any of Republic's potential opponents, with the play-offs seeded to limit the chances of the higher-ranked nations being knocked out. France will nevertheless provide a stern challenge even though they struggled to seal the runners-up berth behind Serbia in Group 7. Raymond Domenech has a host of world-class players at his disposal and Les Bleus also have the advantage of being at home for the second leg. Elsewhere in Europe, Cristiano Ronaldo's Portugal will meet a Bosnia-Herzegovina side that has never made it through to the finals. Ukraine, having finished second behind England in their group, appear to have the kindest draw of the lower-ranked countries after being paired with former European champions Greece. Russia will also be favourites to come through their play-off against surprise package Slovenia, who pipped Czech Republic and Northern Ireland to second in Group 3.
World Cup play-off draw
Republic of Ireland v France Portugal v Bosnia-Herzegovina Greece v Ukraine Russia v Slovenia Two-legged ties to be played on November 14 and 18.

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