Saturday 21 September 2019

Bring it on! Republic and Northern Ireland fans react to the World Cup play-off draw

Could both teams make the World Cup in Russia next summer?

Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland footballers celebrate
Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland footballers celebrate

By Max McLean, Press Association

The general consensus is that the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland could not have hoped for much better in the 2018 World Cup play-off draw.

The draw pitted the eight best runners-up from Europe’s nine qualifying groups against one another, with the winners of each two-legged tie progressing to Russia next year.

The Republic and Northern Ireland were unseeded for the draw, but managed to avoid arguably the two toughest assignments.

Croatia and Italy loomed large, so it really could have been worse.

Ireland’s tie against Denmark might bring back fond memories for fans old enough to remember 2007 with any clarity, as Robbie Keane’s Ireland beat the Danes 4-0 away.

The Danish team could feature Kasper Schmeichel, Christian Eriksen and Nicklas Bendtner, but fans (and even a player) didn’t seem too worried.

Bacon derby, anyone?

And Northern Ireland seemed pretty happy with their result too – a home leg to start against Switzerland.

The Swiss won nine out of their first 10 qualifying games before losing to Portugal at the last and are the highest ranked side in the play-offs, but the fans don’t seem too concerned by that.

And for this fan in particular, things worked out very nicely indeed, thank you very much.

Is the 2018 World Cup grass set to get a little bit greener?

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