WATCH: 'It was awful' - Damien Duff pulls no punches in withering assessment of Ireland display
Damien Duff offered up a brutal critique of Ireland’s tactics and lack of composure on the ball as they played out a 0-0 draw in the first leg of their World Cup play-off against Denmark in Copenhagen.
Duff played in the last Irish team to compete in a World Cup back in 2002 and while he gave credit to Martin O’Neill’s team for their spirit against an equally unimpressive Danish side, the former Chelsea man was clearly exasperated by the lack of ambition shown by Ireland in the attacking third.
“Without the ball, yeah brilliant we defend well, show spirit and desire, but you expect that from Irish players. You expect that from Irish people, with the man in the street,” declared RTE pundit Duff.
“With the ball….Jim Beglin said it was ugly and it wasn’t even that pretty. It was awful stuff. We must be able to do better than that. Harry Arter plays in a football team (at Bournemouth), Callum O’Dowda is a player, James McClean as well.
“Being in that team, you must feel demoralised at times. The ball is just bypassing you. I know that’s the game plan, but without the ball it was awful.”
Duff went on to predict a difficult night ahead in the second leg at the Aviva Stadium on Tuesday, as he suggested Ireland may have missed their best chance to progress to Russia 2018 by failing to snare an away goal in Copenhagen.
“The Denmark manager was speaking before the game that he would be happy with 0-0 and we will be kicking ourselves that we didn’t score,” he added. “The disappointing thing is that we didn’t go toe-to-toe with them, we never took the game to them.
“Our form at the Aviva Stadium, there is no reason to think we will go through or take the game to them, but we have to score.
“If we go 1-0 up in the opening 20 minutes, we will sit back for 70 minutes, fact. We have done that since I was playing. You think back to the results in the group. Serbia lost, Austria 1-1, Wales 0-0…I don’t think we are going to dominate on Tuesday.”