Sport Soccer

Wednesday 11 December 2019

In off the post: Giggs gives Ireland a shout against Slovakia

In off the post

Leicester City’s Kelechi Iheanacho celebrates scoring the late winner against Everton with James Maddison but manager Brendan Rodgers refused to get carried away. Photo: Reuters
Leicester City’s Kelechi Iheanacho celebrates scoring the late winner against Everton with James Maddison but manager Brendan Rodgers refused to get carried away. Photo: Reuters
Daniel McDonnell

Daniel McDonnell

Wales manager Ryan Giggs feels Slovakia have vulnerabilities that Ireland can exploit in March's playoff showdown.

Giggs' side took four points from six against the Slovaks to edge them in the race for automatic qualification.

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Slovakia had more possession in both fixtures and the Welsh supremo respects their technical capabilities.

But he is certain that Ireland will be able to break down their defence.

"They are a talented team, especially in midfield where Hamsik is a real talent, pulling the strings and making them play," said Giggs.

"He's a talent. It won't be easy for Ireland but they are beatable, in my opinion.

"It's not a game that Ireland should be in fear of, but Slovakia deserve respect as they keep the ball

"You have to be respectful and wary because they have got some good players but if you nullify that - and Ireland don't concede too many goals - you will score against them.

Swedes not impressed

It's fair to say that Sweden manager Janne Andersson is not enamoured with the Euro 2020 experiment and those feelings will intensify if Ireland succeed in qualifying for the finals.

In summing up the draw on Saturday, he looked at a scenario where he could face both Ireland and then Spain on their own patch before a 'neutral' meeting with Poland in Dublin.

Andersson feels that's a disadvantage to those nations that aren't hosting. "I don't think that it is fair that some countries have home advantage," he said.

Still, it's not all bad. "I think we will have many thousands of fans in Dublin, and Swedish fans like beer," he said, with a hint of begorrah.

Rising stock

Jack Grealish

Another sensational goal for the former Ireland U21 international highlighted his immense talent. It’s unusual that he hasn’t played his way into Gareth Southgate’s plans but he is surely going to get an audition before the Euros.

Todd Cantwell

He wasn’t a star of Norwich’s promotion charge but the homegrown talent has matured into an important part of their Premier League journey. The chances he’s been given would encourage other youngsters such as Ireland’s Adam Idah.

Bohemians

An excellent kit launch and new sponsorship with Des Kelly Carpets showcased how the Dublin club is getting things right off the park. Early reports of ticket sales and memberships suggest that there is more to come in this good-news story

Falling stock

Quique Sánchez Flores

An 85-day return to Watford which ended ingloriously will make it hard for the Spaniard to return to Premier League level. That old line about the perils of going back to an old club springs to mind.

Shane Duffy

He's had his difficulties with injury but it's now clear that the Irish defender has dropped down the pecking order at Brighton because he doesn't fit Graham Potter's playing style. That said, he might have stopped Virgil Van Dijk from scoring two headers on Saturday if he was selected.

Dundalk

The Lilywhites have been setting the standards on the pitch for a number of years, but they have a way to travel off it. This was evidenced by the launch of a new kit, which was roundly mocked because of its resemblance to a Bohemians jersey.

Farrelly's FIFA position

Dundalk man David Farrelly today starts his new role as Director of Communications with FIFA.

Farrelly has left UEFA after a 22-year stay which he started off as a freelance journalist tasked with growing the UEFA website before taking control of that area and then gradually moving up the ladder to a broader role in communications.

He headed up that department while Michel Platini and now-FIFA boss Gianni Infantino were calling the shots at UEFA. Latterly, Farrelly has been engaged in specific work around the Euro 2020 idea, but he departs to a new position that has been created in world football's governing body.

Saturday's gig in Bucharest was his last official UEFA duty.

Euros vision unpopular

The organisers of Euro 2020 have been left with the legacy of a decision that was driven by fallen hero Michel Platini.

He has long since departed the building, and will watch from afar as his brainchild of hosting a tournament in 12 cities comes to fruition.

It's clear that certain individuals within UEFA have no great love for the idea, with the logistics of giving hosts home matches making sections of Saturday's draw a farce.

The Nations League playoff route is here to stay but UEFA officials were asked at a briefing on Saturday if something like 2020 could happen again. Their tone - publicly and privately - is that Germany 2024 will be an easier gig to organise.

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