With seven games without a win and six matches without a goal – Ireland’s longest scoreless streak - it was another tough night for Republic of Ireland manager Stephen Kenny in Cardiff.
The results just continue to not go his way and yes, while it was a very close affair in the 1-0 loss to Wales, it makes Wednesday’s home game with Bulgaria even more of a crucial game.
Speaking in Cardiff after the defeat, Stephen Kenny was clear that he believes he has what it takes to turn things around. “I’ve no doubts that I will be a success,” said Kenny when asked about the upcoming World Cup qualification campaign that he will lead. “Absolutely no doubts.”
It took more than ten games for Michael O’Neill to get his first victory as an international manager and Kenny will be gunning for that maiden win when Bulgaria arrive in Dublin next week.
“We have a clear vision of what we want. Obviously circumstances with the previous camp and this one are unprecedented in modern times (with COVID-19). Nevertheless the players have come out against a good Wales team today and put in a good performance overall.
“Come the World Cup campaign we will have Seamus Coleman, Enda Stevens, John Egan, attacking options with Callum Robinson, Aaron Connolly, Alan Browne, and an emerging Troy Parrott coming into what we’ve got. James McCarthy as well. That will give us a lot of encouragement.”
It was a better performance than their mid-week defeat in Wembley and extratime.com asked Kenny was he happy with his player’s reaction after that 3-0 loss to England? “We knew we had a tough game coming here. Gareth Bale, David Brooks and Daniel James are a good front three.
“It was a challenge for us to rise to the occasion. The players showed a level of intensity and a real high work ethic, showing good teamwork, but unfortunately have come out the wrong side of a narrow defeat.
“We had quite a few chances. The Welsh are a strong team. You aren’t going to come over and create loads of chances away from home. Up until the last couple of minutes when they had a few chances on the break, we have done very well in the game.
“It is quite a narrow defeat so we have to take that. We have to dust ourselves down and get ready for Bulgaria. We can’t afford to feel sorry for yourself. It is doesn’t do anyone any good.”
For Wednesday game, Kenny will have to deal without Jayson Molumby and Jeff Hendrick who are both suspended. It may provide another opportunity for Jack Byrne to get some game time – he played the final ten minutes of the match in place of Robbie Brady.
extratime.com highlighted to Kenny that the Shamrock Rovers midfielder was the first League of Ireland player to play in a competitive game for Ireland since 1985.
“Right. 35 years. I hadn’t realised it was that long. We needed a bit of creativity but Robbie Brady was playing very well in the match so we were loath to take him out of the game but Jack might give you something different.
"He has the ability to do that and he nearly did it when he put James Collins in at the end.”
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