Viewed 1 times in total, viewed 1 times
It has been a long time since Ireland last appeared in a World Cup final. This year marks Ireland’s 20th since their last appearance at the premier soccer event on the calendar, as they famously reached the round of 16.
Of course, that tournament in South Korea and Japan was controversial for a number of reasons, including Roy Keane being kicked out of the team before a ball was even kicked.
However, this year, the Irish will once again have to sit back and watch several home nations participate. World Cup difference of opinion, as they failed to get out of the group stage and set up a shot at a playoff tie. But, what will Ireland need to do in the coming months and years to ensure a place at the 2026 World Cup?
Build a young squad
One thing that Ireland has been consistently guilty of over the last 20 years is building the national team around older players. This hampered the progress of some bright players, and meant that the FAI lost talented players such as Declan Rice and Jack Grealish, who both chose to represent England instead. There is certainly evidence that Stephen Kenny is looking to rectify this, as there is a young side about the squad that played in the recent international against Ukraine.
Players such as Nathan Collins and Dara O’Shea are forming a new defensive partnership, while midfielders such as Jason Malumbi and Jason Knight are both under-25s and playing regularly for their clubs. Ireland have an exciting crop of young strikers available these days, meaning Michael Obafemi and Troy Parrott could be given extended runs in the squad throughout qualification to gain experience playing for Ireland.
The signs are encouraging at this stage, but they must translate into positive results if Kenny is to have time to qualify for the World Cup in four years’ time.
Solid Euro qualifying campaign
Before the campaign to qualify for the World Cup begins, Ireland will be aiming to reach the final of the European Championship for the third time in four editions of the competition.
Ireland were unlucky to qualify for the Euros last year, as they eventually crashed out in the play-off round. However, recent efforts have improved their record at that stage of the competition, as they managed to go through the play-offs to qualify for both 2012 and 2018. 2016 euro.
The draw for the qualification campaign is yet to be made, but Ireland will be aware that they will draw alongside at least one heavyweight in the European game. Ireland were unlucky when it came to their World Cup qualifying campaign, as they drew with both Portugal and Serbia. Hence, they will need some luck to help them qualify for the EUROs, which could help them be a higher seed for World Cup qualification after the tournament in Germany.
There were positive signs in the previous qualification campaign, as Ireland managed to record draws against Portugal and Serbia, but poor results such as a draw against Azerbaijan and defeat by Luxembourg ultimately cost Portugal their chase for second place in the group. .
These costly defeats to Ireland in the previous campaign were all too evident, resulting in them ultimately failing to challenge for the top two spots in the group. Correcting these slip-ups will be a key factor in qualifying for major tournaments in the future.
Players who may have key roles
Scoring has been a problem for Ireland throughout the recent qualifying campaign, and that was in evidence in World Cup qualification, as they scored just eleven goals in eight games. This included a 0–0 draw against Portugal, where Ireland created enough chances to win.
Limited first-team opportunities for Troy Parrott could limit his opportunities for the national team, meaning forwards like Adam Idah and Aaron Connolly could get more opportunities.
Connolly certainly looks to be the future of the national team, as the 21-year-old moved to Venezia on loan to get more minutes after falling down Brighton & Hove Albion’s pecking order. The striker made just four Premier League appearances last term, but impressed on loan at Middlesbrough in the second half of the season, scoring twice in 18 appearances.
Idaho will also be looking to get more minutes this season in the Championship with Norwich after impressing towards the end of their Premier League campaign last term. The forward scored his first Premier League goal late in the season and could be a big player for the Canaries as they search for another promotion back to the top-flight.
LiveScores are now available on IrishScores.com