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Zach Elbouzedi Does Not Want To Let Historic Achievement Pass Him By

Zach Elbouzedi Does Not Want To Let Historic Achievement Pass Him By
By Gary Connaughton
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The Ireland U21s face into a big Euro qualifier knowing that a victory against Iceland puts them on the verge of qualifying for the tournament for the first time.

Three points in that game, followed by a win against bottom side Luxembourg next week, should be enough to see Ireland through to the finals in Hungary and Slovenia next summer.

It would be a huge boost, with success at U21 level something we have had very little of in the past. The players involved know what an achievement it would be.

Speaking ahead of the game, Zach Elbouzedi said that making history is all the motivation that this groups needs to get the job done.

At U21 level that's the biggest competition we can play in, so to be the first Ireland team to ever qualify would be massive. It would give a big boost to the nation in what has been a tough year, so it would be great to qualify...

It's definitely an excitement. There aren't many times in your football career when you have the chance to make history, so that's a big carrot to be the first Irish team to qualify for the U21s.

If that doesn't motivate people I don't know what else can. It's a big driving factor for us.

It's been a difficult season for Elbouzedi on a personal level.

He joined Lincoln City from Waterford in January of this year, making five appearances in League One before the season was ended early due to the coronavirus. It was assumed he would kick on after the new campaign got underway, but the winger has found playing time hard to come by.

He has yet to appear in the league this season, with his only first team appearance coming as a substitute in the FA Cup.


While the 22-year old is full concentrated on international duties at the minute, he admitted that he has been frustrated at his lack of minutes in recent months.

I want to play every game and for one reason or another I'm just not playing at the moment. That's at the back of my mind when I come away with Ireland, that's my full focus. When I'm at Lincoln that's my full focus.

It's been frustrating. I'm hungry to play games and do as well as I can, but at the moment I'm just focused on trying to get us qualified...

I just want to be playing games. In pre-season I was playing every game and playing quite well. The team is playing really well at the moment, we're fourth in the league so there's not many changes going on.

I want to be playing games, that's what I'm there for. I want to be playing every game. For me, it's about keeping a good attitude and being ready when the chance does come.


Having spent three months back in Ireland during lockdown and with a lack of game time this season, it would be fair to assume that Elbouzedi is lacking a bit of match fitness at the minute.

However, Ireland manager Jim Crawford said he is very impressed with the Dubliner's physical conditioning. It is no coincidence that this is the case, with Elbouzedi saying he does plenty of extra work away from group training in order to ensure he is fully ready to contribute when called upon.

He is likely to play a big part in tomorrow's game, with Ireland keen to avenge the 1-0 defeat they suffered against this opposition late last year. The squad is confident of doing so, having been unlucky to lose on that occasion despite playing poorly on the day.


This group is a close knit one, even keeping in constant contact despite going a whole year without playing together thanks to lockdown. Elbouzedi is hoping that they can now get the job done at Tallaght Stadium.

I love being away with my country and putting on that green jersey, it means so much. I love coming away with the team.

To be honest, I cherish every moment playing with the Irish team because you never know when it's going to be your last. I just love playing for my country...

We're a really close bunch. We all have different group chats and everyone speaks to each other quite a bit. When you have such a big gap between games it's tough but for the most part we keep in contact quite a lot...

The Iceland game is massive. We have to win it, there's no other way to put it. There's that sort of end in sight that if we do win it hopefully we are going to qualify.

All eyes will be on the U21 side when the game kicks off at 12.30pm tomorrow afternoon.

SEE ALSO: Here's The Ireland Team We Want To See Start Against Wales

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