Saturday 17 February 2018

O'Shea: We need cynical edge to revive Rio hopes

Ruaidhri O'Connor

Ruaidhri O'Connor

IRELAND captain John O'Shea wants Ireland to develop a mean streak in order to resurrect their World Cup qualification hopes.

The Sunderland defender believes that the team needs to show more cynicism and be more streetwise in order to close out games and take three points, having missed out on a priceless win against Austria thanks to David Alaba's deflected 93rd-minute equaliser.

Despite the result, O'Shea (below) remains upbeat about Ireland's qualification hopes, as long as his young team-mates can learn from the bitter experience of Tuesday.

"You have to," the Waterford native said when asked if the team must learn from their late lapse. "That's not how you finish international games off.

"When the board went up for injury-time, we had to be cynical, take yellow cards, start wasting time, keeping the ball at the corner flag. We had the perfect opportunity to do that and we were trying to get the message across, but unfortunately we couldn't do that. Especially when it comes up to injury-time, we should be willing to try anything.

"But I think the referee was buying a lot of their screams and jumps. Maybe we could have got another throw-in or free-kick to make use of it. We gave Austria a bit of encouragement and rather than frustrate them, we frustrated ourselves.

"In the dressing-room afterwards when the frustration settled, the lads realised that we can go to Austria (and win) and we have Sweden at home. We have to win those games if we want to qualify.

"We are by no means out of it. It's hugely disappointing and frustrating also, but we're not out of it."

Fellow defender Marc Wilson believes Ireland can overcome their disappointment and remains upbeat about the new-look team's prospects after what he described as his most enjoyable week in the international set-up.

"It was absolutely devastating," the Stoke man admitted. "We did well to get ourselves back into the game, but to concede the late goal with the way it happened, with the deflection, was a big sickener for us.

"This week it has been really positive. All the lads have been terrific, training has been good and there has been a buzz around the place again. I don't think it will affect the lads.

"Obviously they are upset now and everyone is disappointed, but we have got to put it behind us now and move on to the next game."

Wilson is not giving up on qualification, and having done battle with both of Ireland's rivals in the mini-group fighting for second place behind Germany, he reckons Giovanni Trapattoni's team can get the results they need.

"After seeing Sweden and Austria, I definitely think on our day we can beat them," he said.

"We should have won the game against Austria but they got the lucky goal. But I definitely think they are two games we can win."

Austria defender Emanuel Pogatetz reckons that the road to qualification will have plenty of twists and turns.

"Definitely," he said. "Ireland were at home and to concede an equaliser in the last minute always hurts. But the three teams, Ireland, Austria and Sweden, all have chances to get the second place.

"I'm happy for us that we got the draw, because our hopes are still alive.

"But I think Ireland can still qualify as well, so everything is still open in the group."

Irish Independent

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