Monday 18 December 2017

Jon Walters: We need to win rest of our games to stand a chance of making World Cup

Jon Walters after scoring his second goal
Jon Walters after scoring his second goal

Damian Spellman

JON WALTERS has admitted the Republic of Ireland may need to go one better against both Austria and Sweden if they are to stand a chance of making the World Cup finals in Brazil.

The Republic emerged from their double-header against the pair with just two points to show for their efforts after a last-gasp Austrian equaliser denied them a victory in Dublin last night to go with the 0-0 draw they claimed in Stockholm four days earlier.

Ireland face the Faroe Islands at home in June in their next qualifier and will be confident of completing a double over the Group C Minnows, but the stakes will be considerably higher when Walters and his team-mates entertain the Swedes and then head for Austria in September.

The Stoke striker said: "I said last week four points would have been the target this week at least, and we would have been more than happy with that.

"But we have got to pick ourselves up now. We have got the Faroe Islands in the next qualifier here - obviously, that's a must-win - and then Austria away and Sweden at home coming up, and they are must-win games as well.

"There will be lots of twists and turns before the end of the qualifying - I'm sure there will be.

"But we have got to play both teams again, Austria away, Sweden at home, and I am sure they are both must-win games."

It proved a bittersweet evening for Walters at the Aviva Stadium as he marked his 17th cap with a double which looked to have given the Republic the victory they craved.

His 25th-minute penalty cancelled out Martin Harnik's opener, and when he headed home in first-half injury time, the momentum was very much with the Irish.

However, all the good work was undone deep into added time at the end of the game when David Alaba's shot was deflected over keeper David Forde by the unfortunate Sean St Ledger.

In that split-second, two precious points and many of the positives from two games which had seen a much-changed side very nearly perform its task to a tee had slipped away.

Walters said: "There are a lot of players who haven't played many games coming into the squad and some good performances. Especially in Sweden, we defended really well.

"But they are the fine lines in football. That last-minute goal - if that hadn't happened, it would be all praise and cheers at the end of the day.

"It's all ifs and buts, but at the end of the day, we came away with a point instead of three and it's not good enough."

Press Association

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