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'We didn't come here expecting to win it' - Stephen Ward on Irish hopes at Euro 2012
Wolves defender says that the Boys in Green did not expect to go far in the tournament suggesting that they were always going to struggle against superior oppositionStephen Ward has admitted that Ireland did not expect to win Euro 2012 but dismissed the idea that the Boys in Green were exposed as being out of their depth against Spain and Croatia.
Giovanni Trapattoni's men became the first team to be eliminated from the tournament following defeats by Croatia and Spain in Group C but the left back has argued that the Irish players believed they were capable of putting up a fight.
“We’re up against some of the most in-form sides in Europe," the Wolves defender told the Irish Examiner. "Maybe people had that opinion but us, as players, we didn’t. We felt we were a match for anyone."
He continued: “We’re disappointed. We didn’t come here expecting to win it. Of course you want to try and do your best and go as far as you can. Sometimes you’ve got to hold your hands up and this is one of those times.
"We played quite well in the game [against Spain]. We now will go to Poznan and hopefully get a positive result for the fans.”
The 26-year-old conceded that his side made too many mistakes but argued that La Roja have the capability of soundly defeating any team in the world.
“There were mistakes here and there but they could have scored some others,” he said. “They have players who are at the best clubs in the world and to come up against them is tough."
He added: "But, especially in the first half, it was pleasing the way we stayed in the game. Second half, they just lifted it to a different plane and we couldn’t really do anything about it.
“What they’ve done to us, they’ve done to some of the best teams in the world. They’re quite similar to Barcelona and they do the same to the best club sides in the world. You’ve got say they are the best side in the world.”
The former Bohemians player also suggested that the team would learn from the Spain defeat and endeavour the salvage some pride from the Italy game, before suggesting that they were already thinking about the qualification for the 2014 World Cup.
“We just have to learn from it in the Italy game," said Ward. "We’re looking to win, get some pride back, give our fans something to cheer about. We’ll learn from this and obviously we’ve got a big World Cup qualifying campaign as well," concluded the Dubliner.
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