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Ireland Can't Afford To Go Into World Cup Qualifiers Without A Win

Ireland Can't Afford To Go Into World Cup Qualifiers Without A Win
By Gary Connaughton
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It feels like the same old story after every Ireland game at the moment.

You come away thinking that there were some positives, but it ultimately counts for nought when the team can't find the back of the net. It has been now been six games without a goal, the longest drought in the nation's history.

When Ireland were missing easy chances in the first few games of the Kenny era, it was one thing. Not creating them in the first place, which has been the case in the last few games, is an altogether different issue.

There are a number of factors that have contributed to this run.

Stephen Kenny is attempting to implement a new style of play, something that will take time to have an effect. There have been signs that it will bear fruit at some stage.

The continual personnel changes have certainly had an impact. Between injuries and coronavirus regulations, Kenny has lost a ridiculous amount of players from the last two camps. It is fair to say that he has been unable to select his strongest team up to this point.

And yet, it doesn't really excuse what has gone on.


To be clear, this is in no way a takedown of Stephen Kenny's credentials. Some are already calling for his head, which is of course a ridiculous a opinion.

The Slovakia play-off aside, which was only lost on the lottery of a penalty shoot-out, none of these games will have a direct impact on the qualification for major tournaments. The former Dundalk boss cannot be judged until at least the end of the 2022 World Cup qualifying campaign.


In saying that, a winless run such as this one will pile on the pressure.


Some Ireland supporters may be thankful that we will only have one fixture between now and March 2021. After all, watching the team in this current funk isn't enjoyable for anyone.

However, that long layoff will be very difficult for players and management.

It means the game against Bulgaria on Wednesday night takes on even further importance. Ireland will need at least a draw in the game to avoid relegation to League 'C' of the UEFA Nations League, while there are also valuable world ranking points up for grabs.


More than anything, this result will be about perception.

Football is a fickle game. If Ireland go out and score three or four goals and win against Bulgaria, much of what has happened over the last two months or so will be forgotten.

On the other hand, should they fail to win again, this run will extend by at least another four months. Ireland may not play another fixture during that span, but won't stop people talking about it.


A win is needed, both for Kenny and this group of players.

It can give them a bit of a confidence boost heading into the World Cup qualifiers, which are due to start in March. If they go into that period still winless the pressure will be immense.

Here's hoping it doesn't come to that. Ireland will have one final shot to ease the pressure ahead of what already looks like a potentially decisive campaign for Stephen Kenny.


SEE ALSO: Ireland Player Ratings As Same Old Issues Rear Their Ugly Head In Cardiff

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