Finnan's bow

Saturday 1 June 2002

Steve Finnan played the second half as the Republic of Ireland began their World Cup campaign with a 1-1 draw against Cameroon in Niigata.

The Irish, without absent skipper Roy Keane, fielded a host of English-based players and after a slow first-half start in which Cameroon edged them out, improved significantly after the break to take a point.

Finnan had a good half after replacing Sunderland's Jason McAteer at the interval, while his arrival played some part in his team's upturn in fortune as they wiped out Cameroon's 39th-minute opener from Patrick Mboma.

Coach Mick McCarthy had clearly said something right in his half-time teamtalk as his troops equalised on 52 minutes through a well-struck shot from Ipswich skipper Matt Holland.

They could have taken a lead themselves late on when Leeds striker Robbie Keane struck the post, so the African Nations Cup holders can consider themselves fairly lucky to finish with a point from their opening Group E encounter.

The Republic of Ireland are next in action on June 5 when they take on Germany, while the Indomitable Lions play potential group whipping boys Saudi Arabia the following day.

Source: Team Talk