Monday 16 September 2019

Mick McCarthy has Georgia on his mind after favourable result in Tbilisi

Denmark’s Yussuf Poulsen in action with Georgia’s Jemal Tabidze. Photo: Reuters/Vasil Gedenidze
Denmark’s Yussuf Poulsen in action with Georgia’s Jemal Tabidze. Photo: Reuters/Vasil Gedenidze

Aidan Fitzmaurice

Mick McCarthy has challenged his players to make the most of Denmark's slip-up in Georgia last night by going there next month and winning.

Irish hopes of automatic qualification for Euro 2020 got an unexpected boost when the Danes were held to a very frustrating 0-0 draw in Tbilisi, on a night when Switzerland outclassed Gibraltar 4-0.

Assistant manager Jon Dal Tomasson, deputising in Tbilisi for the absent boss Age Hareide, and captain Christian Eriksen were lashed by the Danish media for the performance and result as Denmark missed out on the win which would have taken them level on points with Ireland.

A win for McCarthy's side in Tbilisi and a draw in Geneva three days later would leave Ireland in a strong position to qualify, and could ease the pressure ahead of the Dublin clash between Ireland and the Danes in November.

"I'm delighted it was a draw but the onus is still on us to go out there now and pick up points in October," McCarthy said last night.

"Georgia are a good team, they were playing at home and the result just highlights for me how hard it is to go away and win in this group," added McCarthy, who confirmed that he will not call up any more players to his squad for tomorrow's friendly at home to Bulgaria, where he has promised to make changes.

Georgia's coach Vladimir Weiss, who was linked with an exit from his post this month and a move to a club side in Kazakhstan, hailed his side for their efforts in frustrating the Danes.

"This is even better than the time we beat Spain," he said.

Danish hopes could now rely on their game at home to the Swiss next month. "It was a tough game, we didn't create enough, we were in control of the game and Georgia only had one chance, which Kasper Schmeichel easily saved," said Tomasson.

"We have three games left and if you can't win a game, you have to make sure you don't lose."

Switzerland breezed past the challenge of Gibraltar, winning 4-0 in Sion, and they are now three points behind Group D leaders Ireland with a game in hand.

And Georgia's ability to hold the Danes in Tbilisi, while a boost for Irish qualification hopes, also inserts a note of caution to those who expected Ireland to land at least four points from the October games - a win in Tbilisi and a draw in Geneva.

Georgia's record against Scotland helped Ireland to qualify for Euro 2016 but Irish displays in Tbilisi have never been convincing and McCarthy now has a month to come up with a game-plan to find a way to win over there.

Ireland's next group games are against Georgia on Saturday, October 12 and Switzerland on October 15.

Irish Independent

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