Football

Kerr & Delaney Think One Aspect Of Bazunu's Game Helped Ireland To Baku Win

Kerr & Delaney Think One Aspect Of Bazunu's Game Helped Ireland To Baku Win

The headlines around Ireland's 3-0 win in Baku on Saturday will likely revolve around Callum Robinson and Stephen Kenny - but Brian Kerr and Damien Delaney both reserved special praise for Gavin Bazunu after another excellent display in goal.

Bazunu kept a first competitive clean sheet between the sticks for Ireland on Saturday, but it was actually his ability to launch attacks from the back that caught the eye of the Virgin Media pundits.

Kerr and Delaney praise passing from Gavin Bazunu as crucial to Ireland win

It is scarcely believable that Gavin Bazunu is not yet 20, and won't be for another four months. The Portsmouth goalkeeper has already made seven appearances for Ireland, and is fast becoming the most important name on Stephen Kenny's team sheet.

9 October 2021; Republic of Ireland goalkeeper Gavin Bazunu makes a save from Gara Garayev, 2, of Azerbaijan during the FIFA World Cup 2022 qualifying group A match between Azerbaijan and Republic of Ireland at the Olympic Stadium in Baku, Azerbaijan. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

Bazunu is up against fellow youngsters Mark Travers and Caoimhín Kelleher for the number one jersey, but he appears to have made the spot his own. His impressive shot-stopping was once again evident in Baku, with multiple crucial saves, but it was his distribution of the ball that impressed Brian Kerr and Damien Delaney.

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The punditry pair appeared on Virgin Media's coverage of Andorra v England on Saturday night, and they both praised the Irish goalkeeper. Brian Kerr impressed with the Irish performance and set up - and then stressed just how important Bazunu was to the way Ireland played.

I thought there was a much better mix to our gameplan than we'd seen in a lot of the earlier games under Stephen. Much more sensible approach - they pressed us as much as we pressed them off our kick outs and forced us into playing it long.

There was no silly attempted buildup play around the back four or around the back five area early in the game, and the accuracy of Gavin Bazunu's kickouts were important to the overall gameplan.

Damien Delaney later also praised Bazunu's passing, and noted that it had further evolved since last month's internationals against Portugal, Azerbaijan and Serbia.

Ordinarily, in the last few games, we've seen Bazunu give to Duffy, Duffy back to Bazunu. Here, his area's under a full press and he just gets it out.

I know it may not be pretty, you may not like it, but look at the confusion that it's caused. All of a sudden, we can pick up bits and we're attacking in their defensive third.

Too often here we'd give it to Duffy, Duffy would be forced to give it to Cullen - there's absolutely nothing wrong with mixing up your game.

Look at where we're starting from - before, Shane Duffy let a few of them run under his feet. I'm not saying we go back to "route one, old fashioned, everything goes up the front" - but there's a time and a place to play.

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The evolution of Bazunu's game was crucial to an impressive Ireland win, and the ceiling appears high for one of the most exciting prospects in Irish football.

It wasn't just the Dubliner who Brian Kerr reserved praise for. The former Ireland manager thought that Stephen Kenny had gotten his team selection spot on on Saturday evening, and though that Kenny deserved credit for sticking with Callum Robinson amid a media storm.

When I saw the team before the match, I was happier with the balance. I'd seen matches where Idah has been supported by Connolly and Parrott, and I feel that balance wasn't right.

I was pleased to see Callum Robinson start in the team despite the controversy during the week. When he's played, when he's fit, and when he hasn't had COVID, he's probably been our best attacking player for a good while.

He's 20 games before today for Ireland and one goal. Tonight, he could have had five or six.

It was a massive win for Stephen Kenny in Baku, and the likes of Gavin Bazunu and Callum Robinson are only going to go from strength to strength.

SEE ALSO: Ireland Player Ratings As Robinson Hands Kenny His First Competitive Win In Baku

Eoin Harrington

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