Thursday 22 February 2018

U-19s have spirit to shock hosts and reach finals, insists Miele

Gareth Maher

THE Ireland U-19s have it all to do today to qualify for the European Championships, but Brandon Miele insists they are up for the challenge.

To finish top of Group 2, Paul Doolin's team must beat Serbia, who are hosting these 'Elite Phase' qualifiers, and hope that Slovakia can overcome Switzerland.

It is asking a lot for the Irish youngsters to seal a place at this summer's finals in Lithuania, but midfielder Miele insists that they have nothing to fear.

The former Cherry Orchard schoolboy, now with Newcastle United, points to the team's record of nine games unbeaten in 2013.

"If we feared Serbia, there would be no point in playing the game. It wasn't luck that saw us fight back and draw with Germany in the first phase and then to draw with Slovakia on Saturday," said Miele.

"We are unbeaten for nine games because we are a decent team that works for each other. We know that it won't be easy to beat Serbia, and we need a favour from the other games, but we have to be confident.

"They have an advantage because they are the home nation, and are used to the heat here, but we'll fight to the end."

Manager Doolin echoed those sentiments, saying: "We've gone to Poland, Romania, Serbia to get results and we've managed to get them. We know it's going to be tough, and it should be because this is the best of the best at this age level, but we're still in it."

Doolin has no fresh injury concerns but will will be without suspended defender Noe Baba for this afternoon's clash (4.30).

IRELAND (probable v Serbia) – Lawlor; Long, Sweeney, Smith, Griffin; Miele, Gallagher; Hayhurst, Sadlier, McEvoy; Byrne.

Irish Independent

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