The qualifiers were exciting and unpredictable, but, unfortunately, they were also fruitless for Ireland as they finished third in a tough group. However, is it all that bad for the Irish after the qualifiers? Sure, the failure to qualify hurts, but there are plenty of positives to be taken out from the performances. While the World Cup qualifiers are done and dusted it’s safe to say that betting men and women had quite a season on Mr Green.
More Creativity in Attack
Sure, the group winners Serbia and the runner-up Portugal have scored a lot more goals than Ireland, but it was encouraging to see the Irish attack in the last three games. The Irish performed well up front against Azerbaijan, Portugal, and Luxemburg. They scored three against Azerbaijan and Luxemburg. They didn’t manage to score against Portugal, but the creativity in the attack was evident, with Ogbene creating lots of problems for the Portugal defence. Robinson, with his five goals was the main pick but good support from Ogbene, Idah and McGrath helped sharpen up an area which was a real weakness for the team.
The attacking performance has been respectable in the last few matches, but the Irish defense was a key strength. The entire squad defended wonderfully, the combined centre backs, Egan, Duffy, Omobamidele, Coleman and O’Shea before his injury did the nation proud. Gavin Bazunu was the standout goal keeper of Group A, saving a Ronaldo penalty the highlight the teenager has a huge career ahead of him. Ireland conceded only 8 goals. For comparison, Serbia conceded 9 and Portugal conceded 6. A solid defence is the first step in building a strong team.
The Best Team Spirit
Despite a long run of terrible results, the players have responded well to Stephen Kenny and have came out in support of him during difficult times like during the VideoGate farce. And with the group finishing so positively with goals and strong performances the mood within the camp is extremely high. Shane Duffy and Seamus Coleman to name two have been very vocal in thier and the teams support for all the work Stephen Kenny has done. Through hard times are men made, and Ireland’s team spirit is the better for it.
Stephen Kenny can now look forward to the Nations League draw next week with optimism. And so should Ireland fans.