Saturday 17 August 2019

Ireland to attack as Martin O'Neill plots Republic of Ireland play-off glory

Republic of Ireland manager Martin O'Neill saw his team draw 1-1 in Bosnia
Republic of Ireland manager Martin O'Neill saw his team draw 1-1 in Bosnia

Martin O'Neill has promised to go on the offensive as he attempts to guide the Republic of Ireland past Bosnia-Herzegovina and into the Euro 2016 finals.

The 63-year-old saw his side come within five minutes of a 1-0 first-leg victory against the run of play at the Bilino Polje Stadium in Zenica before Edin Dzeko snatched a 1-1 draw to take into Monday night's decider in Dublin.

Ireland were forced to defend for long periods on a foggy night in Bosnia, but O'Neill admits they will have to take a different approach at the Aviva Stadium.

He said: "The onus is on us now. We will have to try to win because I feel that Bosnia are capable of scoring a goal and therefore I think our mindset should be to try to win the game.

"I don't think we can sit - we were away tonight against a very good Bosnia side and obviously against the crowd, but we will attempt to attack more during the course of the second game.

"That would be our objective if we can. We have got an away goal, which helps, but that can be wiped out in any given minute.

"It was a tough game for us, really tough, but we fought very, very strongly in the game and we are still in the tie, so there's very much everything to play for."

Robbie Brady blasted the visitors into an 82nd-minute lead after his side had soaked up intense pressure, only for Dzeko to deny O'Neill both a win and the win and the clean sheet for which he had hoped.

However, the Ireland boss later admitted he feared at one point that the game might not even reach that point with German referee Felix Brych facing a big decision as the fog descended.

He said: "Yes, I obviously was concerned. The fog came down and looked as if it was deepening in the second half for a period of time.

"What I didn't know until afterwards there was if the game had been called off, that we'd only come back for the rest of the game tomorrow.

"The rules beforehand used to be that you would come back for all of the game, so from that viewpoint since we had played the first half and the game was still goalless, if I had known that, it wouldn't have been too bad to have come back.

"But the fog didn't get any worse after about 15 minutes of the second half and if the referee, I suppose, saw fit to start the second half with the fog deepening, then he obviously saw fit to keep the game going."

It proved a frustrating night for Bosnia coach Mehmed Bazdarevic, who saw his men dominate, but fail to make the pressure count.

Bazdarevic said: "I can only comment on the first half of the game because in the second half, I hardly saw anything. It was so difficult on the pitch.

"This was as difficult a game as we expected but we didn't really play as well as we should have against this rather tough team.

"The first 25 minutes was rather good. Unfortunately, we didn't manage throughout the game to make life difficult enough for our opponent because they really played tough.

"The result is, as you can see, 1-1 and again, nothing is lost. I am still an optimist and I always am and I think we may, if we play better and have a better attitude, we can have a better game in the second leg."

PA Media

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