Saturday 17 March 2018

Andorrans aiming to silence home crowd again

Ruaidhri O'Connor

Ruaidhri O'Connor

Andorra may have kicked off their Euro 2012 qualifying campaign with a respectable 2-0 home defeat to Russia on Friday, but coach Koldo Alvarez (pictured) is expecting a tougher task against Ireland this evening.

The minnows made life difficult for the Group B top seeds, holding them to a single goal for 64 minutes, but away from home and just four days later the former goalkeeper is realistic about his side's chances of a repeat performance.

"It will be tougher, a more intensive match than the game against Russia," he said. "We want to play and to give the same feeling that we gave against Russia playing against Ireland.

"Ireland are a very strong team, they have clear ideas of what they're doing and they had the opportunity to nearly qualify for the World Cup and it will be a very difficult match. Their players have a lot of experience playing in international teams and it will be a tough match.

"We have plenty of things that we are worried about. Ireland have a very good goalkeeper in Shay Given.

"The Irish defence has very strong players technically, and I feel that the squad has very good players like Kevin Doyle, Robbie Keane, Liam Lawrence."

Spanish born Koldo's task as coach of his adopted nation is a mammoth one. Andorra have lost their last 25 international games and have never won away.

Asked what he hopes to achieve in Group B, the coach smiled.

"We hope to win all of them, but we have to realise that we are Andorra," he said.

"We didn't change the way we play since we were appointed, but we tried to improve how we play. We will try to be a very competitive team. We will try to play strongly in defence and if we can, play the ball as well."

Eight years ago the Andorrans gave Mick McCarthy's Ireland the fright of their lives when defender Ildefons Lima gave his side a lead at Lansdowne Road.

Goals from Kevin Kilbane, Mark Kinsella and Gary Breen restored order after the initial shock, but while proud of his goal, Lima wouldn't settle for the same again.

And despite the multi-million makeover of the stadium, the centre-half showed a sentimental side as he pined for the rickety old version of the Aviva.

"No, I'd be happy to score again, but we lost that night," he said.

"It was almost 10 years ago and it was another match. We will try to improve the image of Andorran football.

"I preferred the old stadium. It's a very different stadium. The history, the charm that the old stadium had. This is a completely different stadium and a completely different atmosphere."

Irish Independent

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