Monday 23 April 2018

'I'm not convinced we can play football' - Eamon Dunphy's blunt assessment of Ireland's goalless draw with Denmark

Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

RTE football pundit Eamon Dunphy has said that Ireland must go into Tuesday's World Cup play-off return leg with Denmark with an emphasis on trying to play some attacking football.

Ireland had just two shots on target in a dour and dreary 0-0 draw in Copenhagen, however, should Martin O'Neill's side win in Tuesday's return leg in Dublin, the Boys In Green will advance to the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia.

Dunphy said that Ireland could not rely solely on determination and grit at Lansdowne Road and that O'Neill must encourage his players to go on the front foot and attack the Danes.

"This is a dangerous situation," said Dunphy during RTE's post-match coverage.

"We go 1-0 up, they equalise and we're out. If you look at our performances at the Aviva we struggle.

"We have got to go out and play football on Tuesday night. It takes courage to get on the ball and play the way [Wes] Hoolahan plays, play the way Robbie Brady plays, you need courage to do that, especially when you have a coach like Martin O'Neill who is not really fond of that kind of thing.

"Determination is okay, but if the World Cup was about determination, we'd all be going. The World Cup is for the best nations in the world, the best footballing teams and you've got to play football and I'm not convinced we can.

"If he doesn't play Wes Hoolahan I don't know where the creativity, the passing and the chances are going to come from. If he doesn't play Shane Long, I don't know how we're going to stretch Denmark because Daryl Murphy is not that type of player.

"If he doesn't encourage the players to pass the ball and play like we know they can then we'll go out."

Former Ireland international Damien Duff said that he fancies the Danes to get on the scoresheet in the second leg at the Aviva Stadium and that Ireland must be capable of playing a better brand of football given the caliber of players in the Irish side.

"I think we're kicking ourselves that we didn't score and the disappointing thing is that we never really went toe to toe with them," said Duff on RTE's post-match show.

"I think Jim [Beglin] called it, we never took the game to them. I just think with our previous result, our form at the Aviva, at Lansdowne Road, there's no reason to think we're going to go through or take the game to them there because I don't think we're good when we take the game to teams, but we have to because we have to score.

"If we go 1-0 up after 20 minutes, we'll sit back for 70 minutes. Fact. We've done that since I was a player and I still fancy Denmark to come over and score.

"If you think back to the results in the group - Serbia we lost, Austria 1-1 that would mean we're out, Wales would be a penalty shootout, Georgia we struggled for large parts of the game - there's no reason to think we're going to go and dominate on Tuesday.

"Without the ball, we're brilliant, we defend well, we have desire, spirit, but you expect that from Irish players, from Irish people, from the man on the street, but with the ball it was ugly.

"It wasn't even that pretty. It was awful stuff. We must be able to play better."

Former Arsenal and Juventus midfielder Liam Brady said that Tottenham midfielder Christian Eriksen was the only bright spot in an otherwise ugly game, but that a 0-0 draw in Copenhagen does not necessarily improve Ireland's chances of qualifying for next summer's finals.

"Both teams are direct and both teams don't put any emphasis on creative football," said Brady.

"Only when [Christian] Eriksen got the ball tonight did some semblance of football break out in a battle and a feisty match. An ugly match.

"But I agree with Damien, there's no guarantee that this 0-0 and not being beaten away from home is going to be the guarantee that get us through."

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