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Why Ireland's Upcoming UEFA Nations League Matches Are So Important

Why Ireland's Upcoming UEFA Nations League Matches Are So Important
Gary Connaughton
By Gary Connaughton
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Ireland's progress under Stephen Kenny has been an up and down process.

He got off to a fairly disastrous start results wise, taking far longer than anyone would have anticipated to get his first win in charge of the team. In saying that, he did manage to blood some young players along the way.

The World Cup qualifying campaign started off poorly, although it would end in an impressive fashion. From there, Kenny himself has admitted that it has all been about building for Euro 2024.

That is what makes this UEFA Nations League campaign so important.

The importance of Ireland's UEFA Nations League campaign

Stephen Kenny said that Ireland would enter their fixtures alongside Scotland, Ukraine, and Armenia hoping to win their group and achieve promotion to League 'A' for the next campaign.

That was always going to be a challenging task, one that was made all the more difficult after losses in their first two fixtures. While promotion is still technically a possibility after picking up four points in their last two games, it looks unlikely.

That isn't to say there is plenty to play for.


Not only will they need to pick up some more points in the games against Scotland and Armenia in order to stave off the threat of relegation, but Ireland can improve their chances of qualifying for Euro 2024 with a strong finish to the campaign.

The seedings for qualification for the tournament in Germany will be based on the finishing positions of teams in this year's UEFA Nations League.


The draw will take place in October, with ten groups to be decided.


The 15 teams from League 'A' of the Nations League (with hosts Germany not taking part in qualifying) will make up the majority of the nations seeded in pot one and pot two.

The remaining five teams will be taken from the top five sides in League 'B', with Ireland attempting to play their way into that conversation. Two wins will likely be needed in order to have a chance of getting there.

Once qualifying gets underway, the top two teams in each group are guaranteed to qualify for the tournament. That makes getting into pot two for the draw a huge advantage as they would likely be handed an easier path to the finals.


Should Ireland just retain their place in League 'B', that should be enough to guarantee themselves a play-off for Euro 2024 regardless of where they finish in their subsequent qualifying group.

Winning your UEFA Nations League group guarantees a spot in the play-offs. However, when you consider that a large portion of those teams will also qualify for the tournament via the qualifying groups, those spots are then given to the highest ranked nations who failed to finish in the top two of their groups.

It was via this method that Ireland were given a play-off for Euro 2020.


In summary

To summarise, Ireland will be hoping that two wins in the coming days will be enough to secure a second seeding for the Euro 2024 qualifying draw. It would be a massive boost for their chances of reaching the tournament.

Should they fall short of that goal, they will at least be hoping to position themselves to earn the fallback option of play-off place for the tournament. A couple of good results will all but ensure them of that prize.

It will be a big few days ahead for Stephen Kenny and his players.


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