Friday 21 July 2017

Ireland U-17s eager to close in on finals berth

Ireland U-17 coach Colin O'Brien. Photo: Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile
Ireland U-17 coach Colin O'Brien. Photo: Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile
Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

Ireland take on Slovakia in the UEFA U-17 Championship elite qualifying round in Cyprus today looking to take control of their destiny.

A victory for Colin O'Brien's side could seal their place in the finals in Croatia as the Slovaks beat mini-tournament hosts Cyprus on Tuesday when the Irish beat the Faroe Islands 4-0.

But O'Brien insists his side must be ready to go all the way to the wire if that's what it takes to progress.

"The way the results went on day one puts us in a good position but it is unlikely that anything will be decided until the final round. We have to really keep our concentration and focus on Slovakia and nothing else," said O'Brien.

"We've recovered well since our opening game. All 18 players are available.

"We've looked at the footage of Slovakia's win over Cyprus and they have got some physical players. They've shown that they are a big threat on the counter-attack.

"As with any game, we know that there are areas of their play that we have to be aware of and a few we can exploit.

"We've played teams like Slovakia before. They have a strong striker and good wide players. We'll be prepared for the challenge."

Improvement

The Irish coach was more than pleased with his side's display against the Faroes in the opening fixture but insists there is room for improvement.

"There are always areas you'd look to improve upon. The Faroes had an opportunity from a corner late on and we have to be careful not to concede. In tournament football clean sheets are critical."

Irish Independent

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