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Fixtures revealed for 2011 Carling Nations Cup

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Northern Ireland manager Nigel Worthington and Republic of Ireland boss Giovanni Trapattoni look forward to the inaugural Nations Cup.

The inaugural Carling Nations Cup will kick off when the Republic of Ireland host Wales on 8 February, with Scotland facing Northern Ireland the next day.

The new tournament is on a league basis, with all six matches being staged in Dublin's new Aviva Stadium.

Northern Ireland's clash with the Republic is on 23 May, with Wales facing Scotland the following day.

Wales face Northern Ireland on 26 May, with the tournament ending with the Republic against Scotland on the 27th.

Republic of Ireland manager Giovanni Trapattoni said the Nations Cup is "a tournament we would very much like to win, particularly playing at home in Dublin" and would not detract from their bid to qualify for the 2012 European Championship finals.

The Carling Nations Cup is to be held in one country on a rotational tournament-by-tournament basis.

There are bragging rights at stake here, not only for the fans but also for the players

Northern Ireland manager Nigel Worthington

"The matches will provide us with a good opportunity to see our players in games with a real competitive edge at an important time in our bid to qualify for 2012," said the Republic's Italian boss.

Northern Ireland manager Nigel Worthington is relishing the prospect of taking part in the tournament.

"Competitive games against our neighbouring countries don't come around too often," he pointed out.

"There are bragging rights at stake here, not only for the fans but also for the players as no-one will want to lose against their closest rivals.

"Northern Ireland are more than capable of winning this tournament and we hope to get off to a good start in February."

Scotland's traditional main rivals, England, had decided against taking part, but the Scots' coach, Craig Levein, thinks the competition will be strong enough to avoid a mass pull-out of players.

"I have been there as a club manager, I know how difficult it is," he said.

"There is a chance I would have had a friendly in February anyway, but this tournament will have integrity.

"It goes back to the idea of the Home Internationals, which had a competitive element. This will be akin to a competitive match and that is important to me.

"I know England aren't in it, but there will be quite a lot of interest in these games.

"I will looking to play my strongest team but if there are call-offs or injuries then there are players in the under-21s or in between the under-21s and the full team - what I call the Twilight Zone - who could get an opportunity.

"I could name a dozen players who I am desperate to see playing in a full international. So, from my point of view, this is a good tournament."

The old Home International series featuring England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales was last played in 1984, when Northern Ireland were champions.

That annual competition was eventually scrapped because of increasing fixture congestion.

However, Football Association of Wales chief executive Jonathan Ford thought that the new competition could rekindle the best of those matches.

"It will be fantastic to see these games taking place," he said.

"We can all remember great matches in the past in the Home Internationals, championship qualifiers and friendlies.

"I am sure they will be a huge success and we look forward to generating competitive matches but maintaining the friendly rivalry that exists between our respective countries."



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see also
Four Nations set for 2011 launch
25 Mar 09 |  Internationals


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