Gdynia (Poland): Ireland coach Giovanni Trapattoni has said he is ready to roll back the years when the Irish open their Euro 2012 account against Croatia in Group C on Sunday.

At 73 years and 85 days, the charismatic Italian will replace Otto Baric, who led Croatia at Euro 2004, as the oldest coach at a European championship when Ireland play Slaven Bilic's Croatia in Poznan, Poland.

"This is not a problem. I feel like a 20-year-old, only with more experience," said Trapattoni having conducted Friday's press conference in English, Italian and even German gained while coaching Bayern Munich in the 1990s.

"I'm still hungry for success, I watch every football match and always think of ways in which I could improve."

With an army of fans having followed them from the Emerald Isle, Trapattoni said his players owe it to their supporters to come up with a win ahead of their other group games against Spain and Italy.

"If you look at how the fans receive us and how they support us, then I ask my players for their total commitment," he said.

Ireland will have veteran Shay Given in goal after he was declared fit to play after shaking off a knee injury and is set to make his 123rd appearance.

"I have no doubt," said Trapattoni with Irish fans having launched a 'Pray for Shay' campaign to try and help the 36-year-old Aston Villa goalkeeper.

This is only Ireland's second appearance at a European championships, having exited after the group stages in 1988 following a famous 1-0 victory over England when the tournament was held in west Germany.

"One should never say never in life and dreaming is allowed," said the Irish coach.

Having gone undefeated in the last 14 games with a 4-4-2 formation, Traptonni hinted he may play record goalscorer Robbie Keane of LA Galaxy just behind Wolverhampton Wanderers forward Kevin Doyle.

Ireland were held to a goalless draw by Croatia in Dublin last August and Bilic's team have injury problems with striker Ivica Olic out of the tournament with injury and defender Vedran Corluka struggling with a thigh strain.

"I have seen Croatia many times, and we have played them in a friendly as well, and I have to say, they have more creative players than we do," Trapattoni told uefa.com.

"However, we are in the same physical and mental condition and with our tactics we have shown against Brazil and France how through our efforts, more creative players have failed to cause us problems."

(Agencies)

 

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