Angry O'Neill hits back after Strachan criticism
Published 13/10/2015 | 02:30
Martin O'Neill has told his Scottish counterpart Gordon Strachan to accept that Ireland deserved a third-place finish in Group D and insisted that his team have taken a forward step by reaching the play-offs despite a deflating end to the campaign proper in Poland on Sunday.
It appears that O'Neill was miffed by comments made by Strachan after Scotland's elimination was confirmed, with the Tartan Army boss insinuating that his team were unlucky because neither Poland or Ireland had registered a victory against them.
O'Neill feels that the final group table was a fair reflection of the campaign and, while he acknowledged that an opportunity was missed in Warsaw, he said that he would have taken a promise of next month's drama at the start of the process.
"I said to the players in the dressing-room that I would have taken this situation throughout the group," said O'Neill.
"When we saw the group in the first place, I may well have taken it before we even kicked a ball in Georgia.
"What I said - that has come to fruition - is that teams would take points off each other.
"I heard Gordon saying that they're out and us and Poland hadn't beaten them. But we've taken four points off the world champions. Scotland didn't do that. So I think we should put it into perspective.
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"It was a difficult game on Sunday. I thought we could do but it's gone.
"I'm disappointed but, regardless of who we play, we're still fighting for it."
By close of play tonight, Ireland should know the identity of their four possible opponents for next Sunday's draw.
The outside chance of jumping into the seeded category received a further setback last night when Ukraine failed to overtake Slovakia in Group C.
Tonight, Ireland need Bosnia to trip up in Cyprus in Group B, Turkey to draw with Iceland in Group A and Croatia to take second spot from Norway in Group H.