Ireland Vs Serbia
Ireland faced Serbia in their opening World Cup qualifier in Belgrade with question marks over the game until an hour before kick-off due to heavy rain throughout the day. Thankfully the game got the go ahead and Ireland had the perfect start to the post Robbie Keane era with a deflected Jeff Hendrick effort putting Ireland 1 up on 3 minutes.
Ireland started out with Robbie Brady and Jeff Hendrick teaming up in central midfield with James Mc Clean and John Walters picked in the wide positions to support Shane Long. After Ireland went a goal up they seemed to again stop playing and reverted back to the long ball game with Darren Randolph trying to find the head of Shane Long this tactic was never going to work and so it proved last night with Ireland under real pressure every time Serbia won possession they looked to get the ball wide and put balls into the box.
This caused Ireland all sorts of issues with the back four under real pressure. John O Shea and Richard Keogh were partnered together and they looked uncomfortable on occasion. The theory that a good Euros should mean you should be bang in form for the following campaign went out the window last night.
Why Ireland revert to type and play the long ball game is mind numbing and frustrating to watch , Yes Serbia are a good side and have some good players but so have Ireland , They showed at the Euros when they kept the ball which isn’t against the rules of football by the way they can create chances.
I am not calling for any major changes but we really do need to learn how to keep the ball, I don’t buy into this argument because we are Irish we have to play one way and one way only !! Time for change I think, we need to learn to use the ball when we have it and not to give it away as cheaply as happened last night in Belgrade.
Serbia showed how open this group will be becuase bar one or two moments didn’t look a million miles better than Ireland, they were incrediably fortunate to win a penalty after levelling the game at 1 all.
Typical of Ireland they started to keep the ball and bite into tackles when they went 2-1 down , it was like watching somebody flick a switch and Ireland kicked into gear and managed to rescue a point with a first goal at International level for Newcastle United front man Daryl Murphy.
This World Cup Qualifying campaign promised so much after the performances at the Euros , Here’s hoping that the hard fought point won in Belgrade can lead Ireland to a place in Russia in 2018….
Cian Mc Gibney