Category: Archive

Soccer Scene: Despite draw, Ireland look good to qualify

February 17, 2011

By Staff Reporter

Cyprus and Faroe Islands have, of course, fallen by the wayside. But would they ever love to spoil the party for somebody. Teams that are out of the hunt are sometimes at their most dangerous, and it is the Faroe Islanders who will represent a hurdle for the Irish and Brian Kerr in the final stretch.
Meanwhile, there is little doubt in the minds Irish fans that the Boys in Green will beat Israel on June 4 at Lansdowne Road. One might think there would be cause for doubt after the recent game against Israel in Tel Aviv, especially after Ireland let them tie the game in the 90th minute. But that slip won’t matter once the rematch starts. There will be too much at stake.
Before the Israel game, a look at the Group 4 table would have shown Ireland at the top, an unaccustomed position. Things looked really good for the Boys in Green. A win over Israel would have made them red-hot favorites. It was in the cards.
A goal in the fourth minute set the tone when Clinton Morrison scored. Could it be? Could the Irish go on and win in a convincing manner? But once again an Irish team just couldn’t hold on. It was a bitter blow for the Irish, and for many it seemed the norm. But now that the dust has settled and other results have gone their way the Irish are still very much in the hunt.
The current table seems more like an Irish scenario, with the Irish a point off the pace with a game in hand. Perhaps the Irish are meant to play catch-up and qualify in dramatic fashion. All the better, bring it on.
Nonetheless, Israel are proving to be no pushovers. They are joint top right now on 10 points alongside France. The Irish and the Swiss are on 9.
The last thing the Irish need to do is to look at what-ifs. But it is tempting. Should Ireland manage only a draw at Lansdowne Road with Israel and if Switzerland do the same, it’s still wide open.
However, that’s unlikely to happen, as Switzerland, although on the road, will very likely beat Faroe Islands. The Irish players and coaching staff know that beating Israel is a must as they are opening the summer phase with a tougher test than the Swiss and French.
Still, there is a lot of football to be played and the Irish seem to be in a really good position to qualify. A win will surely send Israel out and cement Ireland as the group leader. Kerr can then expect his side to handle Faroe Islands with not necessarily a bucketful of goals but the maximum three points.
At the moment, home advantage over France and Switzerland seems too far away to even think about. But let’s hope that when that time arrives the green and white is in full bloom. Ireland should have it all to play for in the summer months.

The was Newcastle United players Kieron Dyer and Lee Bowyer, who blew their fuses during their loss against David O’Leary’s Aston Villa. Bowyer seemingly attacked Dyer as both the United players went at it in front of the multitudes. Afterward, both players apologized to the club, the chairman and their fans on public television. Between them sat a very pensive and highly disgusted Scotsman in Graeme Souness.
Holding his chin up to face the music, Souness explained that they would look into Bowyer as being the instigator. Poor old Lee in trouble again and could be on his way out.
Souness has been put to the test already with Craig Bellamy and the manager came out smelling like a rose. Newcastle had been on a winning roll and was one of the in-form teams in the league.
Alan Shearer signing a new contract for Newcastle sends even more energy into a high-flying atmosphere. Talk of trophies to come next year was premature. The air of confidence has backfired on Souness just when things were bubbling. But the bubbles have burst and what a shame. Now it’s poor old Souness. What does he have to do to show the fans he is on the right track?
Souness will get things going one more time before the end of season. Newcastle will do well now that Shearer has signed the dotted line. Bowyer has to take a look at the camera work and get his act together. It’s his last chance, something we have heard too often.
Newcastle is a side that always seems to be just there but not quite making it to the final. On keeping things cool calm and collected, that remains to be seen.
If Souness thinks he has problems, at least he knows, for now, that the chairman, club and fans are behind him. It’s not the case for Jose Mourinho, who is now unhappy with the Chelsea administration. Mourinho, it’s been alleged, feels he has to go it alone against an UEFA ruling that has banned him for two games.
Mourinho is concerned that he has not worked closer with the likes of Peter Kenyon and chairman Bruce Buck. But when it comes to football, the fans and his players like him, a lot. Chelsea is looking good on the field these days and could get better. Confidence is soaring in the Champions League with Frank Lampard looking special.

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