IF YOU are going to qualify for any major international tournament then you have to win your home games and the Republic of Ireland’s failure to defeat Slovakia last Friday night could yet cost them dearly.
Slovakia were well set up defensively and were technically proficient but as they say here in Derry, “They couldn’t score in a jotter.”
Once that was realised one hoped that Giovanni Trapattoni would adopt a more attacking formation, particularly after the half-time break, but it was not to be.
The manager has a system of playing and he sticks to it (and gets some decent results) but every now and then I believe it’s important to have enough flexibility to take advantage of opponents’ weaknesses and ‘Trap’ just doesn’t do that.
Tonight’s game with Russia really is make or break but the Republic should have been going into it on the back of a three point victory.
N.Ireland, on the other hand, faced a Serbian side laced with star players but gave their usual fighting performance and could have easily sneaked a draw except for a mistake by Steve Davis.
Without Paddy McCourt and Kyle Lafferty, this was a credible performance and with a little help from ‘Lady Luck’ would have earned them a deserved point.