Giggs gears up for clash with old pal Roy
Ryan Giggs, the new manager of Wales, knows that he will have to do his homework before he locks horns with his old team-mate Roy Keane and Martin O'Neill in the Nations League group stage.
Giggs, appointed earlier this month as Chris Coleman's successor, will kick off his reign as Welsh boss, in the competitive sense, at home to Ireland, in Cardiff, on Thursday September 6th.
That's a test for their new manager of Wales, aware that Ireland have the upper hand, having won in Cardiff last October, a defeat which knocked Wales out before the playoff stage.
There's already an edge to the ties due to the broken leg suffered by Seamus Coleman at home to the Welsh 10 months ago, but for Giggs, there's the personal side of a tussle with Keane and Giggs says he spoke to Keane before the draw about a possible pairing.
"There was a big chance we'd get either Northern Ireland or the Republic. We're drawn against players we know, a country we played recently and had disappointment against. There's a lot of analysis we need to do before," says Giggs, a rookie in management, bar his time as caretaker of Manchester United, that spell recently mocked by the video release of a flat team-talk.
"I know Martin. He's a football man, he has been so successful in his managing career, and playing career.
"You have two teams who know each other well, two coaches who know each other well, and Roy as well. I am excited to pit my brains against a manager who has been successful.
"We play a few games before we play. We know the Republic and of course Denmark who went on to beat the Republic.
"First and foremost, as a player Roy was outstanding. If I was ever to pick a team, Roy would be the first in the team because of what he brought, not just on the pitch but off the pitch, his winning mentality, his quality, just a fantastic football person.
"Off the pitch, he's someone who helps younger players, he drives the older players if they're not pulling their weight. And he'll take take into his coaching too."
Ireland of course knocked Wales out of the race for the World Cup before the play-offs came on stream but the Welsh have one up on the FAI as they have Chelsea prospect Ethan Ampadu, the son of Dublin-born former Ireland U21 cap Kwame, in their ranks.
"He's still young, still learning, but he's got a lot of quality. He's getting more and more game time for Chelsea and is an exciting player. We've a lot of good young players, but they need game time in the coming months," Giggs said.
While Ireland prepare for the Nations League with those away friendly games against Turkey (March) and France (May), with one home friendly to come, Wales are heading east, for a mini-tournament in March, against hosts China, the Czech Republic and Uruguay.