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Ireland to start Euro 2004 campaign in Moscow

© Reuters 2002

DUBLIN, Feb 15 (Reuters) - Ireland have arranged to start their 2004 European championship qualifying campaign with what is likely to be their most difficult match - away to Russia.

The Moscow meeting on Saturday September 7 will get the two countries' group 10 campaigns underway after the five nations involved met in Dublin to organise the fixture list on Friday.

The Football Association of Ireland announced the results of the meeting and they should please manager Mick McCarthy, who had wanted to start with a difficult away game.

Ireland's only other qualifying fixture this year will be a Dublin meeting with Switzerland on October 15.

They then face a tough away double - Georgia in Tbilisi on March 29 2003 and Albania in Tirana four days later.

The same two countries travel to Dublin in June before Ireland play Russia in Dublin on September 6 and complete their programme against Switzerland in Berne on October 11.

The group winners qualify automatically for the 2004 finals in Portugal, while the 10 runners-up will take part in playoffs.

Both Ireland and Russia have qualified for this year's World Cup finals.

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