Sunday 17 December 2017

Brady: Ireland have the players to give Wilmots' men a good trimming

Photo: David Maher/Sportsfile
Photo: David Maher/Sportsfile
Aidan Fitzmaurice

Aidan Fitzmaurice

When some of the Ireland players mentioned before their departure to France last week that they were in need of a haircut, Robbie Brady put in a call to his brother, Darren, who now runs a barber shop in his native Baldoyle, after a brief career in England.

On Saturday in Bordeaux, Robbie and the rest of the Ireland team hope to take a scissors to the hyped-up but under-achieving Belgium team when the two nations clash in Group E.

A senior Belgian FA official may have had a chuckle about a supposedly "second-rate" Ireland side but for their players, this is no laughing matter with another big tournament possibly ebbing away.

Read more: 'We respect Ireland'

Belgium, who have injury worries over Eden Hazard and Kevin de Bruyne, head to Bordeaux needing a result to stay involved in Euro 2016 and defeat would leave them sweating on a third-place finish at best.

The golden generation of Belgian footballers got out of their group at the 2014 World Cup finals but failed to set the tournament alight. They now face the ignominy of failing to get past the first hurdle at Euro 2016, after that 2-0 defeat to Italy left coach Marc Wilmots and his players under serious fire back home.

Brady is more keen to talk up Ireland than to heap more praise on the likes of Hazard, Courtois, de Bruyne and Lukaku.

"It doesn't bother me," says Brady when told of negative comments from the Belgian camp.

"We know what we are capable of and we know we are capable of hurting teams. Hopefully we can do that.

"They've got some fantastic players but there's nothing to fear. We can't have any fear going into these games. We've got players that can hurt teams, like we showed the other night against Sweden. Hopefully we can show what we're about as well and try and shut out what they've got."

A large part of Ireland's game-plan on Monday against the Swedes was to restrict the impact of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, a job well done by the unheralded Glenn Whelan.

Sweden were a team of one star and 10 others, Belgium have a side packed with big names, but Brady insists that Saturday is not about simply stopping the opposition.

"That's part of tournament football - we can't just set out to stop them, although we'll be well drilled in trying to do that.

"They have some dangerous players and people who can hurt us. Hopefully we'll keep them quiet and show them what we're about," added Brady, who yesterday spoke warmly about the path taken by himself and fellow northsider Jeff Hendrick, from their time as baby-faced footballers at St Kevin's Boys to that stage of the Stade de France in front of 80,000 fans.


Both men were on the field for that thrilling 1-0 over Germany last year and Brady already feels that Ireland need to summon up the spirit of that victory to take into the Belgian clash.

"We have to if we want to have any ambitions of getting out of this group, we have to think like that," he says, keen for this side to show Europe that footballers from Ireland can, well, play football.

"We do like to play football as well. Some Ireland teams in the past might have had a different approach but we have some lads in at the minute that are really good footballers.

"We like to get the ball down and play, it's about finding the balance, we managed to do that in the first game. Hopefully we can do that for the second."

Irish Independent

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