Category: Archive

Russia, Swiss failures give boost to Republic

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

A victory by either Russia or group leaders Switzerland last Saturday would have left Ireland staring at a 6-point deficit, thereby heightening the crushing expectations on Mick McCarthy’s squad going into this afternoon’s match (kick-off 2:30 p.m. EST). But a floodlight failure in Tbilisi forced the abandonment of the goalless Russia-Georgia match at half time, while the Swiss — with McCarthy watching from the stands — could only eke out a point in Tirana from a 1-1 tie with Albania.
This was after a late free kick by Albanian midfielder Edvin Murati had canceled out Murat Yakin’s 37th minute header for the visitors. Thankfully for Ireland, both Stephane Chapuisat and substitute Leonard Thurre failed to convert in stoppage time with only Albanian keeper Foto Strakosha to beat. What this means is that a win today will put Ireland on par with Russia (albeit the former Soviets will have a game in hand), and close the gap with the Swiss to one point.
Apart from Fulham defender Steve Finnan and Sunderland midfielder Jason McAteer who are both injured, coach McCarthy has at his disposal largely the same squad that lost 4-2 to Russia in Moscow last month. The team comprises: goalkeepers Shay Given, Dean Kiely, and Nick Colgan; defenders Ian Harte, Gary Breen, Gary Kelly, Kenny Cunningham, John O’Shea, and Phil Babb; midfielders — Matt Holland, Colin Healy, Mark Kinsella, Lee Carsley, Rory Delap, Stephen McPhail, Kevin Kilbane, and forwards Robbie Keane, Clinton Morrison, Damien Duff, and Gary Doherty.

Northern Ireland manager Sammy McIlroy, a member of the squad that stunned hosts Spain 1-0 in the 1982 World Cup finals, failed to wind back the clock in Albacete where the North was starched 3-0 by the Spaniards in a Group 6 qualifier.
McIlroy sent his men into battle believing that Northern Ireland still had the kind of spirit that upset the Spanish 20 years ago. However, two goals from Rub

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