Category: Archive

Missed Opportunity

February 17, 2011

By Staff Reporter

Not that Israel didn’t create chances, and not that they didn’t deserve an equalizer in the very last minute, it was more that the players demonstrated little or no ambition after taking an early lead through Clinton Morrison. No spark, no creativity, no urgency, no sense that they wanted to kill the game off with one more, or even two more, goals.
Instead, Ireland played with a surprising lack of intent given that Israel are hardly one of soccer’s superpowers. With Roy Keane, Damien Duff, and Robbie Keane on hand, there was more than enough class and experience to build on Morrison’s opportunist goal, but Brian Kerr’s side appeared satisfied to hold on to what they had when they should have gone for jugular.
In those sort of situations, it’s almost inevitable that the opposition will score, and up stepped Abbas Suan, one of two Arabs in the Israeli lineup, to fire in the equalizing goal with a perfectly placed shot in the 90th minute.
“There was an air of annoyance and frustration around,” Kerr said later. “The players felt that they had played well and we had handled most of their attacking ploys. It was disappointing to lose the goal so late, but before the match we felt it would’ve been a fantastic result to have won and a good result to have got a draw. So we got a good result.
“It’s a shame we lost the two points. We move on.”
Apart from Morrison’s superbly taken goal after Duff had whipped in a cross, Ireland hardly ever threatened the Israel goal, and there was some head-scratching that Kerr didn’t introduce Andy Reid during the second half in place of Morrison, who was clearly tiring.
“It’s not that we were poor,” midfielder Kevin Kilbane said. “I really thought we were comfortable for long spells. But I suppose we just didn’t do enough on the attacking side of things. We weren’t clearing the ball from defense in a particularly professional manner in the later stages of the game. We probably expected to create more chances.”
Roy Keane admitted the players were down in the immediate aftermath of the game, and that the attacking side of things was disappointing.
“I think we could probably have done a bit more in the second half with our possession,” he said. “We didn’t do enough to kill the game off, but football can be a cruel game and it’s not as simple as winning every match. In any qualifying campaign there’s going to be ups and downs, and we’re down at the moment. But we’ll be OK.”
Kerr agreed that group was still wide open, but that the team would have to perform better in order to qualify.
“You give your best, and it wasn’t quite good enough,” he said. “We were caught, but I still don’t think there was any negativity about our performance, at times we had six or seven players attacking their penalty area. We can do better, we will do better in our remaining games.”
Ireland will need to. Avoiding defeat won’t be enough to reach next year’s World Cup finals in Germany.

Other Articles You Might Like

Sign up to our Daily Newsletter

Click to access the login or register cheese