Ireland can exploit Germany's weak underbelly – David Forde
Published 26/02/2014 | 02:30
David Forde is challenging his Irish team-mates to go through 2014 unbeaten and view Germany's 'arrogance' as an opportunity to exploit when the teams meet in the third qualifier of the upcoming Euro 2016 campaign.
The Republic of Ireland open their qualification series with three difficult away matches, interrupted by a solitary home fixture against Gibraltar and yet despite the treacherous early steps along the road to France, Forde strongly believes Ireland can emerge from their trips to Georgia, Germany and Scotland with five points.
If this smacks of wishful thinking – particularly in light of the 6-1 and 3-0 hammerings Germany delivered against Ireland in the last World Cup campaign – then Forde is unapologetic. A glass half-full person, the goalkeeper is fully confident Martin O'Neill can lead the national team to the European championship finals for a second consecutive time.
"It will be a tight group which will probably go down to the wire," said Forde. "But it offers up a fantastic opportunity for us. Okay, we have to face Germany – superbly consistent at qualifying for major tournaments. Yet they showed a weak underbelly defensively in the last campaign and, even when we lost 3-0 in Cologne, we showed we could get at them.
"They have an arrogance which can be one of their strengths but also one of their weaknesses. The 6-1 defeat at the Aviva was a freak result and said more about us, going through a transitional period after the Euros. If we believe in ourselves – which we will do – then we can get a result.
"Looking at our fixture list, if we could end 2014 unbeaten, then that would represent a fantastic start for us and a good platform to build on. It will be difficult, but we're looking to take five points, at least, from our opening three away games. Put it this way, qualification is achievable for us, particularly with two automatic places available."
This easing of the qualification process – whereby 24 nations rather than 16 will be offered places in the Euro finals – has led to considerable disquiet among the continent's larger footballing nations, with the Germans among the dissenters.
Forde, however, does not feel extending the invite list to another eight nations will result in a dilution of quality.
"There has always been that argument that the Euros is a stronger tournament than the World Cup – our experience in 2012 proved that – so it is good that the door has been opened to smaller nations.
"On a personal level, I would love to be back in a major tournament. I really enjoyed my experiences in Euro 2012, despite the results. Going back would be a big goal of mine."
And should Ireland make it, then Forde is likely to be the No 1, even though Shay Given has made it clear that he wants to resume his international career.
"What Shay Given does, or for that matter, Darron Randolph or Kieren Westwood, is irrelevant to me," said Forde. "Once I am at peace with myself, giving 100pc for whatever club I am playing for and am performing to the best of my ability, then I am happy."
Is he happy at Millwall, though? In the final year of his contract – and with the offer of a new one yet to be taken up – Forde is fully aware of Celtic's interest and reluctant to take a quick decision with regards his future.
"My contract situation remains unresolved," he said. "With this being the last year of my current deal, I felt Millwall's new offer wasn't appropriate. I have had a good chat with the manager and he told me he wants me to stay.
"But they are in a bit of a predicament whereby they do not know what league they are going to be in next season, so it is all up in the air. I have been very pleased with my form this season and all I can do is keep playing well and see what happens in the summer.
"I am still young, enthusiastic and hungry. The Premier League is a place I am desperate to play in as well. So, we will wait and see."
* David Forde was speaking at the launch of the 2014 Aviva Health FAI Primary school '5s' – a five-a-side tournament, which will climax at the Aviva Stadium on May 28.