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O'Neill And Keane Might Be Worried About What They Saw In The Champions League

O'Neill And Keane Might Be Worried About What They Saw In The Champions League
By Gary Reilly Updated

We may be quietly confident about our chances against Bosnia but last night's Champions League action really served to put into context the task at hand. When Martin O'Neill named his bumper 39 man squad last week, the only player remotely close to European club competition this year was Anthony Stokes.

Bar the Celtic man, who's not exactly first choice in Glasgow, no other Irish player is taking part in the Champions League or Europa League this season. We may not have an intimate knowledge of all our Bosnian opponents but just a quick look at the Champions League action from last night shows what we're up against.

Four of our opponent's 28 man squad lined up in Europe's premier competition last night. Three of them scored and the other one is Chelsea's goalkeeper. Aside from Asmir Begovic, the Roma duo of Edin Dzeko and Miralem Pjanic are well marked out as the danger men of the Bosnian side.

Last night they showed why.

Roma's 3-2 win over Leverkusen was bookended by a goal each from Dzeko and Pjanic. Granted the winner from the diminutive playmaker was a penalty but the fact that he's Roma's go-to man in those situations says quite a bit about how important he is for the Italian giants.

No surprise there. We all know about Dzeko and Pjanic and a couple of Champions League goals isn't going to change anything. But it's worth looking at the other Bosnian who scored last night.


Only the most ardent Liverpool fans will remember the name Armin Hodzic but it may serve the Ireland management team to keep an eye on him over the next couple of weeks. Having moved to Liverpool as a 16 year old, work permit issues soon put a halt to any hopes of progression to the first team and after a loan back home, he moved on to Dinamo Zagreb and, now 20, he's firmly established as a Champions League striker.

His goal against Olympiakos last night wasn't too bad.

Sure, we may prefer our strikers paying for Stoke and Southampton but it must be noted that Hodzic hasn't even been capped by the senior Bosnia set-up yet. Could you imagine an Irish player scoring in the group-stage of the Champions League and not even having a cap yet.


That could well change against Ireland and while we're not trying to be overly pessimistic, last night did provide a very good example of just what we're up against when we travel to Zenica on November 13th. Bosnia may not have household names throughout the squad but don't let that fool you into thinking we're favourites to go through, or even anything like it.

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