Monday 19 February 2018

'We're not finished' - Martin O'Neill optimistic about Ireland's qualification hopes

Republic of Ireland manager Martin O'Neill during the FIFA World Cup Qualifier Group D match between Republic of Ireland and Serbia at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
Republic of Ireland manager Martin O'Neill during the FIFA World Cup Qualifier Group D match between Republic of Ireland and Serbia at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

Independent.ie Sportsdesk

Republic of Ireland manager Martin O'Neill insisted that his side are far from finished following Ireland's 1-0 loss to Serbia on Tuesday.

A second-half goal from left-back Aleksandar Kolarov was the difference between the two sides in Dublin with Ireland now needing to beat both Moldova and Wales to stand any realistic chance of qualifying for next year's FIFA World Cup in Russia.

"I thought we played very well," O'Neill told RTE Sport in his post-match television interview.

"The first-half we were obviously urged on by the crowd and it was a really, really great effort by the team.

"We've come in and we thought that we could win the second-half. They get a little break just after half-time. But I thought we can win the match.

"If I'm being honest, I'm not so sure they had as much as three attempts on goal the whole evening. Obviously we threw caution to the wind at the end to try and get something out of the game and it eventually eluded us.

"But we are not beaten, far from it. The last two games we must win and if we can beat Moldova, if we can, it sets it up for the final game of which we have to go to Wales and win.

"We have to win both games."

O'Neill said that his players were naturally disappointed with the result but that they can take some solace from the fact that they can still control their own destiny in this group.

"Everybody is obviously down," added O'Neill.

"Firs time we've been beaten here for a long, long time but even so, it's still in our hands. That's the most important thing. We can get to the play-offs. We can still make it.

"Obviously disappointed but we are not finished. Genuinely not finished in this competition."

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