Tough draw for Ireland

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The Republic of Ireland's hopes of making the World Cup finals suffered a blow after they were drawn against France in the play-offs.

To make matters more difficult for Giovanni Trapattoni's Irish side, France will also have the advantage of playing the second leg of the play-offs at home.

In the other play-offs, Portugal will play Bosnia-Herzegovina, Greece will face Ukraine and Russia take on Slovenia.

Trapattoni had criticised FIFA for seeding the play-offs - Ireland, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Ukraine and Slovenia were all unseeded meaning they could not play each other.

France, beaten finalists in the last World Cup, were viewed as the team to avoid along with Portugal and Cristiano Ronaldo.

The Irish, who last played in the finals in 2002, had hoped for an easier fixture against Greece but in the draw in Zurich, Everton's South African midfielder Francois Pienaar drew them first out of the hat against the French.

Trapattoni at least can feel relieved that the Republic do not have to play Russia on the artificial pitch at Moscow's Luzhniki Stadium.

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