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Thursday 8 December 2016

Wise Weiss seeking to make history

Georgia boss Vladimir Weiss. Pic: Sportsfile
Georgia boss Vladimir Weiss. Pic: Sportsfile

The much-travelled coach of Georgia's national team had reasons to enjoy his previous battles with Ireland.

In the qualifiers for Euro 2012, Giovanni Trapattoni's Ireland struggled to break down Vladimir Weiss' Slovakia side, two draws from two games frustrating an Ireland outfit who still managed to qualify for the finals.

Weiss (52) had his own taste of finals glory in 2010 when he led his native Slovakia to the World Cup finals, where they reached the last 16, but he's aware that getting his current employers, Georgia, to a finals is... well, a bigger task.

"I don't know if it's possible to have the same history but I hope it is so. I do hope we can do the same in the future but it's not easy," says Weiss, in charge of a Georgia side who do battle in Dublin tonight missing two of their key players, captain Jaba Kankava and defender Ucha Lobjanidze, men who have over 100 caps between them, so their absence will be felt here in Dublin by a young Georgian side. When I started with Slovakia, it was the same situation as we have now in Georgia, we are looking forward, step by step, day by day, moving forwards.

"When I took this job I watched a lot of games that the team had played, they had a lot of unlucky defeats but they had potential as they had talented, technical players but they made mistakes and it's my job to make sure we progress, get good results.

"Before I came here, the team were unlucky to lose a lot of their games. They were unlucky against Ireland before but I hope it's time to change history."

It was a blow when 50-cap man Ucha Lobjanidze pulled up in training in Malahide yesterday so the Georgian defence will be exposed. But they have class in midfield, with Aiden McGeady's former team-mate at Spartak Moscow, Jano Ananidze, a threat. Tornike Okriashvili (Krasnodar), who scored the winner against Spain in the summer, also has en eye for goal.

Georgia (probable):

Loria (Krylya Sovetov); Tsiskaridze (Teplice), Kashia (Vitesse), Kvirkvelia (Rubin), Navalovski (Veria); Kazaishvili (Legia Warsaw), Daushvili (Diosgiori), Okriashvili (Krasnodar), Ananidze (Spartak Moscow), Dvalishvili (Dinamo Tbilisi), Mchedlidze (Empoli).

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