Monday 16 September 2019

Boys in Green cannot afford complacency

Ireland's Shane Long
Ireland's Shane Long

Liam Kelly

Republic of Ireland fans who expect a goal-fest against Moldova in tonight's World Cup qualifying game could be disappointed.

Tempting as it is to look with disdain at the Group D whipping boys, the Irish can expect Moldova to lock into defensive mode and try to frustrate the home side for as long as possible.

The 156th-ranked team in the FIFA standings have taken only two points, from draws home and away against Georgia, and lost to everyone else in the group.

But with the pressure on the Republic in a must-win game, and Moldova used to defending for long spells, it may not provide a pretty spectacle. Instead, O'Neill's men could take time to wear down their opponents and hope they crumble under sustained pressure.


Moldova, situated between Romania and Ukraine, declared its independence in 1991 as the USSR broke up. It is one of the poorest countries in Europe.

Its first international as an independent state was a friendly in July 1991 against fellow Soviet breakaways Georgia. They lost 4-2. Since then they have played Georgia 11 times, winning four, drawing four - two of them in our Group D - and losing three.


Igor Dobrovolski, an Olympic gold-medal winner with the Soviet Union in 1988, played in the World Cup finals in 1990, and in the Euro '92 and '96 finals. In charge for the second time, he brought the team to their highest total of 12 points in Euro 2008 qualifying.


Dobrovolski uses a 4-2-3-1 formation. The lone-striker role has been shared between Radu Ginsari of Israeli club Hapoel Haifa, and Igor Bugaev (Irtysh Pavlodar, Kazakhstan). Bugaev, 33, scored Moldova's first goal of the campaign with a breakaway effort against the Irish.


The total number of Moldovans living in the Republic is 6,472, according to the 2016 census. Even if a couple of thousand travel from Moldova, their fans will be massively outnumbered.

Irish Independent

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