Thursday 14 November 2019

O'Shea seeks winning start in qualifiers to help lift mood of the nation

Daniel McDonnell

Daniel McDonnell

JOHN O'SHEA believes that victory in Kazakhstan is essential to erase the memory of the Euro 2012 misery.

The Waterford native is conscious that the public mood surrounding the national team was severely damaged by three bruising defeats in Poland, and acknowledges that a good start to the World Cup 2014 campaign is desperately needed to raise spirits again.

"We need to give everyone a bit of a lift and forget about the Euros," stressed O'Shea. "We want to get the feel-good factor back again and it would help if we can get a win in our first qualifying game.

"We've been watching a few videos and they're quite a fast counter-attacking team and we'll have to be prepared. The smaller countries are improving their tactics a lot and their set-pieces. If we are not fully concentrated, they can catch you out."

Parallels have been drawn with Armenia, where Ireland started the Euros campaign with a valuable win, but in terms of personnel and world ranking, the Kazakhstani team are a far less intimidating proposition.

"The rankings do suggest that," said O'Shea, "but we have seen some of the clips. I know on video clips they don't show you the bad stuff, they show you the good stuff, and teams can often look better than they are.

Standards

"But if we're not up to our usual standards for a qualifying game, we'll get caught out because the pitch (artificial surface) is going to be an unknown and we'll only train on it the night before. Fingers crossed we don't get caught out.

"If we are professional and our usual selves, I can see us getting the win."

A chat with Sunderland clubmate Seb Larsson, a Swedish international, reminded O'Shea of the difficulty of the upcoming group, with Germany the warm favourites to qualify automatically.

Ireland, Sweden and Austria are expected to fight it out for second place, so they can't afford to drop points against Kazakhstan.

"I spoke to Seb Larsson and they are thinking along the same lines," said O'Shea. "Everyone seems to be counting Germany for first spot and then it's the battle for second.

"But if you go into it like that... we can cause Germany problems but let's be honest and realistic about it, Germany have a fantastic squad with unbelievable young players and experience too.

"It will be tough to top the group but we are more than capable of coming second."

Irish Independent

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