Monday 26 September 2016

Martin O'Neill: 'An away goal can be wiped out in a minute - It's all to play for'

Paul Hyland in Zenica

Published 13/11/2015 | 22:50

Martin O'Neill is wary that Ireland only hold a slender advantage after the 1-1 draw in Zenica in the first-leg of the Euro 2016 play-off against Bosnia
Martin O'Neill is wary that Ireland only hold a slender advantage after the 1-1 draw in Zenica in the first-leg of the Euro 2016 play-off against Bosnia

Martin O'Neill moved immediately to damp down huge expectation created by Ireland's dogged draw in Zenica and believes that a win at the Aviva in the Euro 2016 second-leg will be necessary to make it to France.

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"We got an away goal which helps but that can be wiped out in a minute. It was a tough game for us but we fought very hard. We have everything to play for."

" I don't think the advantage is with us. Bosnia are capable of scoring a goal. We will have to play very strongly again but we have given ourselves a chance."

Like everyone else, O'Neill was worried that the game might be called off because of the thick blanket of fog which enveloped the stadium after half-time.

Robbie Brady, Republic of Ireland, celebrates after scoring his side's first goal. UEFA EURO 2016 Championship Qualifier Play-off, 1st Leg, Bosnia and Herzegovina v Republic of Ireland. Stadion Bilino Pole, Zenica, Bosnia & Herzegovina. Picture credit: David Maher / SPORTSFILE
Robbie Brady, Republic of Ireland, celebrates after scoring his side's first goal. UEFA EURO 2016 Championship Qualifier Play-off, 1st Leg, Bosnia and Herzegovina v Republic of Ireland. Stadion Bilino Pole, Zenica, Bosnia & Herzegovina. Picture credit: David Maher / SPORTSFILE
Football - Bosnia & Herzegovina v Republic of Ireland - UEFA Euro 2016 Qualifying Play-Off First Leg - Stadion Bilino Polje, Zenica, Bosnia & Herzegovina - 13/11/15 Bosnia's Senad Lulic in action with Republic of Ireland's Jeff Hendrick Reuters / Dado Ruvic Livepic EDITORIAL USE ONLY.
ZENICA, BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA - NOVEMBER 13. Robbie Brady (C) of Ireland celebrates scoring a goal during the EURO 2016 Qualifier Play-Off First Leg match at Bilino Polje Stadium on November 13, 2015 in Zenica, Bosnia and Herzegovina. (Photo by Srdjan Stevanovic/Getty Images)
ZENICA, BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA - NOVEMBER 13. Robbie Brady (L) of Ireland celebrates scoring a goal during the EURO 2016 Qualifier Play-Off First Leg match at Bilino Polje Stadium on November 13, 2015 in Zenica, Bosnia and Herzegovina. (Photo by Srdjan Stevanovic/Getty Images)
ZENICA, BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA - NOVEMBER 13. Robbie Brady (C) of Ireland celebrates scoring a goal during the EURO 2016 Qualifier Play-Off First Leg match at Bilino Polje Stadium on November 13, 2015 in Zenica, Bosnia and Herzegovina. (Photo by Srdjan Stevanovic/Getty Images)
Football - Bosnia & Herzegovina v Republic of Ireland - UEFA Euro 2016 Qualifying Play-Off First Leg - Stadion Bilino Polje, Zenica, Bosnia & Herzegovina - 13/11/15 Robbie Brady celebrates after scoring the first goal for Republic of Ireland Action Images via Reuters / Jason Cairnduff Livepic EDITORIAL USE ONLY.
Football - Bosnia & Herzegovina v Republic of Ireland - UEFA Euro 2016 Qualifying Play-Off First Leg - Stadion Bilino Polje, Zenica, Bosnia & Herzegovina - 13/11/15 Republic of Ireland's James McClean in action with Bosnia's Ognjen Vranjes Action Images via Reuters / Jason Cairnduff Livepic EDITORIAL USE ONLY.
13 November 2015; Robbie Brady, Republic of Ireland, celebrates after scoring his side's first goal. UEFA EURO 2016 Championship Qualifier Play-off, 1st Leg, Bosnia and Herzegovina v Republic of Ireland. Stadion Bilino Pole, Zenica, Bosnia & Herzegovina. Picture credit: David Maher / SPORTSFILE
ZENICA, BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA - NOVEMBER 13. Robbie Brady (R) of Ireland celebrates scoring a goal during the EURO 2016 Qualifier Play-Off First Leg match at Bilino Polje Stadium on November 13, 2015 in Zenica, Bosnia and Herzegovina. (Photo by Srdjan Stevanovic/Getty Images)
***Alternative Crop*** Bosnia and Herzegovina's Mensur Mujdza (left) and Republic of Ireland's Robert Brady (right) battle for the ball during the UEFA Euro 2016 Qualifying Playoff first leg at The Stadion Bilino Polje, Zenica. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday November 13, 2015. See PA story SOCCER Bosnia. Photo credit should read: Nick Potts/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only, No commercial use without prior permission, please contact PA Images for further information: Tel: +44 (0) 115 8447447.
Bosnia and Herzegovina's Mensur Mujdza (left) and Republic of Ireland's Robert Brady battle for the ball during the UEFA Euro 2016 Qualifying Playoff first leg at The Stadion Bilino Polje, Zenica. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday November 13, 2015. See PA story SOCCER Bosnia. Photo credit should read: Nick Potts/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only, No commercial use without prior permission, please contact PA Images for further information: Tel: +44 (0) 115 8447447.
Republic of Ireland manager Martin O'Neill during the UEFA Euro 2016 Qualifying Playoff first leg at The Stadion Bilino Polje, Zenica. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday November 13, 2015. See PA story SOCCER Bosnia. Photo credit should read: Nick Potts/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only, No commercial use without prior permission, please contact PA Images for further information: Tel: +44 (0) 115 8447447.
Bosnia and Herzegovina's Toni Sunjic (left) and Republic of Ireland's Wes Hoolahan (right) battle for the ball during the UEFA Euro 2016 Qualifying Playoff first leg at The Stadion Bilino Polje, Zenica. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday November 13, 2015. See PA story SOCCER Bosnia. Photo credit should read: Nick Potts/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only, No commercial use without prior permission, please contact PA Images for further information: Tel: +44 (0) 115 8447447.
Bosnia and Herzegovina's Edin Dzeko (right) and Republic of Ireland's James McCarthy battle for the ball during the UEFA Euro 2016 Qualifying Playoff first leg at The Stadion Bilino Polje, Zenica. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday November 13, 2015. See PA story SOCCER Bosnia. Photo credit should read: Nick Potts/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only, No commercial use without prior permission, please contact PA Images for further information: Tel: +44 (0) 115 8447447.
13 November 2015; Robbie Brady, Republic of Ireland, in action against Mensur Mujdža, Bosnia and Herzegovina. UEFA EURO 2016 Championship Qualifier Play-off, 1st Leg, Bosnia and Herzegovina v Republic of Ireland. Stadion Bilino Pole, Zenica, Bosnia & Herzegovina. Picture credit: David Maher / SPORTSFILE
ZENICA, BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA - NOVEMBER 13. Fog comes down during the EURO 2016 Qualifier Play-Off First Leg between Bosnia and Herzegovina and Republic of Ireland at Bilino Polje Stadium on November 13, 2015 in Zenica, Bosnia and Herzegovina. (Photo by Srdjan Stevanovic/Getty Images)
13 November 2015; Toni Šunjic, Bosnia and Herzegovina, in action against Daryl Murphy, Republic of Ireland. UEFA EURO 2016 Championship Qualifier Play-off, 1st Leg, Bosnia and Herzegovina v Republic of Ireland. Stadion Bilino Pole, Zenica, Bosnia and Herzegovina. Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE
13 November 2015; Republic of Ireland supporters watch on during the game. UEFA EURO 2016 Championship Qualifier Play-off, 1st Leg, Bosnia and Herzegovina v Republic of Ireland. Stadion Bilino Pole, Zenica, Bosnia and Herzegovina. Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE
13 November 2015; Toni Šunjic, Bosnia and Herzegovina, in action against Daryl Murphy, Republic of Ireland. UEFA EURO 2016 Championship Qualifier Play-off, 1st Leg, Bosnia and Herzegovina v Republic of Ireland. Stadion Bilino Pole, Zenica, Bosnia and Herzegovina. Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE
13 November 2015; Mensur Mujdža, Bosnia and Herzegovina, in action against Robbie Brady, Republic of Ireland. UEFA EURO 2016 Championship Qualifier Play-off, 1st Leg, Bosnia and Herzegovina v Republic of Ireland. Stadion Bilino Pole, Zenica, Bosnia and Herzegovina. Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE
(R - L Top) Republic of Ireland's James McCarthy, Daryl Murphy, Stephen Ward, Darren Randolph, Ciaran Clark, Richard Keogh (L - R Bottom) Wes Hoolahan, Seamus Coleman, Glenn Whelan, Jeff Hendrick and Robert Brady pose for a team group photograph during the UEFA Euro 2016 Qualifying Playoff first leg at The Stadion Bilino Polje, Zenica. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday November 13, 2015. See PA story SOCCER Republic. Photo credit should read: Nick Potts/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only, No commercial use without prior permission, please contact PA Images for further information: Tel: +44 (0) 115 8447447.
Bosnia and Herzegovina's Toni Sunjic (left) and Republic of Ireland's Daryl Murphy battle for the ball during the UEFA Euro 2016 Qualifying Playoff first leg at The Stadion Bilino Polje, Zenica. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday November 13, 2015. See PA story SOCCER Republic. Photo credit should read: Nick Potts/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only, No commercial use without prior permission, please contact PA Images for further information: Tel: +44 (0) 115 8447447.
Bosnia and Herzegovina's Toni Sunjic (left) and Republic of Ireland's Daryl Murphy battle for the ball during the UEFA Euro 2016 Qualifying Playoff first leg at The Stadion Bilino Polje, Zenica. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday November 13, 2015. See PA story SOCCER Republic. Photo credit should read: Nick Potts/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only, No commercial use without prior permission, please contact PA Images for further information: Tel: +44 (0) 115 8447447.
ZENICA, BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA - NOVEMBER 13. Ireland fans show their support prior the EURO 2016 Qualifier Play-Off First Leg match at Bilino Polje Stadium on November 13, 2015 in Zenica, Bosnia and Herzegovina. (Photo by Srdjan Stevanovic/Getty Images)

"I was concerned when the fog came down. What I didn't know until afterwards was that if the game had been called off we would only have come back for the rest of the game. The rule before was that you come back for all of it."

"Since we had played the first half and game was goalless it wouldn't have been too bad. The fog didn't get worse and the referee saw fit to start the second half and saw fit to keep the game going."

"I'm delighted the fog didn't prevent the game from being finished. We could all gripe about one or two decisions but I thought referee was outstanding and I haven't said that for a long time.

O'Neill  saw very little of Robbie Brady's goal.

‘Efficient attack and costly defensive lapse' – Five things we learned from Ireland’s draw in Bosnia  

It was a very foggy goal," he said smiling. "Haven't seen it back since but I think he did very well to get back into position' although he's being modest about it. It was a great boost for us and keeps us alive and going.

O'Neill had a positive bulletin about his missing players.

"I'm hoping that John O'Shea is  still doing well. We will see. He will join up with us tomorrow. Jon Walters coming in and I hope nothing happens. He can play in terms of fitness. Shane Long hasn't ruled himself out. He has no football which is very very important but it's great to know he doesn't want to rule himself out."

Bosnia boss Mehmed Bazdarevic was clearly deflated by the result but also by his teams performance.

"I can only comment on the second half. It was a difficult game as we expected but we didn't play well against this rather tough team. The first 25 minutes we were good but we didn't make life difficult for our opponents."

"Nothing is lost, I'm still an optimist and if we play better we can win the second game."

Read more here:

How the Ireland players rated in Bosnia

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