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Wednesday, 4 September, 2002, 10:01 GMT 11:01 UK
Cunningham is new Republic skipper
Birmingham's Kenny Cunningham will skipper Ireland as he wins his 42nd international cap against Russia
Kenny Cunningham will lead the Republic against Russia
Russia v Republic of Ireland | European Championship Group 10 qualifier | Moscow | Saturday, 7 September kick-off 1600 BST | Live on BBC Sport Online

Mick McCarthy has named Birmingham City defender Kenny Cunningham as captain for the Republic of Ireland's European Championship qualifying campaign.

The Irish kick off their bid to reach Euro 2004 with an away match against Russia on Saturday.

Cunningham takes over the captaincy from Steve Staunton, who retired from international football after leading the Republic at this summer's World Cup.

"Kenny's qualities as a player are easy to see," manager McCarthy told a media conference just before the Irish party left Dublin airport on Wednesday.

"From day one he has been a great influence.

"He is a talker on the pitch, he organises the players around him, and off the pitch he is a calm influence.

"He has been captain before and is one of the most senior members of the party."

Manager McCarthy will be hoping a good result at the Lokomotiv Stadium will help push the ongoing Roy Keane saga into the background for a while.

The Republic boss has had the cloud of the Manchester United skipper hanging over him since their dramatic bust-up in Saipan on the eve of the World Cup.

No remorse

He has been doing his best to bring an end to the Keane story regarding his Republic team, preferring to look to the future and talk about the players in the current squad.

But the recent publication of Keane's autobiography, and interviews he did for Sunday newspapers last weekend, have ensured he stays in the headlines.

Keane is quoted in the Observer Sport Monthly magazine as saying that McCarthy can 'rot in hell' and that he has no remorse for what happened in the summer.

The midfielder also claimed he will play for his country again at some stage, saying 'what goes round comes round'.

Republic of Ireland manager Mick McCarthy has been plagued by the ongoing Roy Keane affair
Mick McCarthy hopes for a good start in Moscow

McCarthy's side had a convincing 3-0 away win over Finland without their former skipper in a friendly last month.

They will be hoping to carry that form into the qualifiers for the European Championship.

It is 14 years since the Republic last reached the finals of the tournament, being knocked out in play-offs in the last two campaigns.

Manchester United centre-half John O'Shea has been promoted to the senior squad for the Moscow match after his impressive start to the season.

And Sunderland's Phil Babb has been brought back in from the cold after an absence of over two years.

Babb has 34 caps to his name but has not been included in the squad since being involved in a late-night incident in a Dublin street prior to a World Cup qualifier away to Holland.

However, McCarthy has indicated that Cunningham and West Ham's Gary Breen will be his starting central defensive partnership.


WC = World Cup
WCQ = World Cup
EC = European Championship
ECQ = European Championship
F = Friendly International


HEAD TO HEAD MATCH TOTALS

All Russia Ireld Drawn
Total meetings 11 5 4 2
World Cup Quals 4 2 2 0
Euro Ch'ships 1 0 0 1
Euro Ch Quals 2 1 1 0
Friendlies 4 2 1 1


FIXTURE HISTORY

DATE COMP MATCH RESULT
18 Oct 1972 WC Q Rep of I 1-2 Soviet Un
13 May 1973 WC Q Soviet Un 1-0 Rep of I
30 Oct 1972 EC Q Rep of I 3-0 Soviet Un
18 May 1975 EC Q Soviet Un 2-1 Rep of I
12 Sep 1984 WC Q Rep of I 1-0 Soviet Un
16 Oct 1985 WC Q Soviet Un 2-0 Rep of I
15 Jun 1988 EC Soviet Un 1-1 Rep of I
25 Apr 1990 F Rep of I 1-0 Soviet Un
23 Mar 1994 F Rep of I 0-0 Russia
27 Mar 1996 F Rep of I 0-2 Russia
13 Feb 2002 F Rep of I 2-0 Russia


MOST RECENT MEETING

REPUBLIC OF IRELAND 2-0 RUSSIA
Friendly - 13 February, 2002 - Lansdowne Road, Dublin
Rep Ireland scorers: Reid 3, Robbie Keane 20
Rep Ireland team: Given (Kiely 46), Finnan (McAteer 72) (Quinn 90), Harte (Staunton 72), Roy Keane (Holland 86), O'Brien (Dunne 46), Cunningham (Breen 46), Reid (Kelly G 46), Healy (Carsley 46), Robbie Keane (Sadlier 72), Duff (Morrison 46), Kilbane (Kennedy 46).
Russia team: Nigmatullin, Khlestov (Daev 90), Kovtun, Khokhlov (Izmailov 53), Nikiforov (Chugainov 66), Onopko, Karpin,. Mostovoi, Alenichev (Semak 72), Bestchastnykh, Titov.
Referee: Dermot Gallagher - Att: 44,000


 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
Kenny Cunningham
"It's the ultimate accolade"
All the build-up to Euro 2004

How the groups line up

Background features
See also:

04 Sep 02 | Man Utd
02 Sep 02 | Football
29 Aug 02 | Football
Links to more Republic of Ireland stories are at the foot of the page.


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