Republic of Ireland manager Giovanni Trapattoni insisted he was still a happy man despite tasting defeat for the first time in the job.
Ireland went down 3-2 to Poland at Croke Park as a late fightback gave them hope of extending the manager's unbeaten run to seven matches. In the end, the Poles, backed by huge support from their Irish-based compatriots, deservedly claimed the spoils.
"Normally after a defeat, I am sad and not happy, but this evening, I am not sad because I saw from some players that we can believe in the future," he said.
"I said this team (Poland) are strong and have played together for a long time.
"But we had some great chances with Damien Duff and we kept believing we could score and for me, that's positive.
"I said to the players in the dressing room afterwards that it is better to lose a friendly that a World Cup qualifier.
"We can start 2009 with great belief. We have a good direction."
The late rally capped an eventful few days for Ireland defender Richard Dunne in particular.
Dunne was allowed to fly back to Manchester last night to be with his pregnant wife, but returned to play the full 90 minutes.
Trapattoni said: "We let him go - but I made him promise me that he would come back."
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