REPUBLIC OF IRELAND
The Boys in Green arrive back at the Aviva Stadium to face Qatar following Saturday’s 3-0 victory over Azerbaijan in Baku. Ireland picked up their first competitive win in over two years, and Stephen Kenny’s first as manager.
A first half brace from Callum Robinson and a late header from Chiedozie Ogbene earned Ireland all three points, although they remain fourth in Group A.
20-year-old Adam Idah put in yet another good performance, running the channels and holding the ball up, and should have had a goal himself in the second half. Josh Cullen was impressive again in holding midfield and continues to look like a mainstay in this side for years to come.
At the back, John Egan, Shane Duffy, and Andrew Omobamidele were solid, and bar a scare or two, emerged from Baku with a clean sheet. Gavin Bazunu was superb again, making two brilliant saves on his eighth cap for his country.
After so many “positive performances” that lacked results under Kenny, this was a win that was well overdue, and eases some of the pressure on the ex-Dundalk boss, who has been regularly facing questions about his job security.
Kenny spoke to the media including extratime.com at FAI HQ on Monday looking ahead to the friendly against Qatar. The Ireland boss confirmed that Jason Knight will feature after his illness in Baku, although Daryl Horgan and Cullen are injury doubts.
“It’s a great game for us,” said Kenny. “Qatar are like a club team. They've played 17 games since March, Copa America, Asian Cup, CONCAF and games in this group. They are very athletic and play in a 3-5-2 with two high eights and two centre forwards.
“It's an interesting challenge for us. We’ll have to play really well. We want to experience winning at home and want our supporters to experience that.”
Liverpool number two Caoimhin Kelleher also spoke to the press, and it was confirmed he will make his full debut against Qatar.
“I have family coming up to watch the game. In front of the home fans to make my first start would be a special, proud moment for me.” Kelleher said.
Speaking about life as number two at one of the biggest clubs in the world, Kelleher said, “I’m No. 2 this season and it’s a good position to be in I think.
“Hopefully it’s a chance to play some games and the opportunity to play at a high level. I need to play well. If I need to have a conversation about playing more games, I’ll have it. I’m in a good position where I am.”
Qatar come into Tuesday’s friendly having lost 3-0 to Portugal on Saturday, in which Cristiano Ronaldo became Europe’s most capped international on 181.
As guests in Group A of World Cup 2022 qualifying, they have picked up two 1-1 draws against Ireland and Luxembourg. Last March, James McClean’s early strike was cancelled out by Mohammed Muntari’s second half goal.
Since taking charge last March, manager Feliz Sanchez has won eight, drawn three and lost four so far, with three of those defeats coming against Serbia and Portugal, Ireland’s Group A opponents.
“All the matches in the European qualifiers are important and we are trying to benefit from every game, regardless of the opponent,” said Sanchez on the eve of the game.
Qatar’s key players include Hasan al-Haydos. The right-winger has scored 32 goals in 146 international appearances and holds the record for most caps for his country.
24-year-old Akram Afif plays on the left wing, and has already scored 16 goals in 59 caps, despite his young age. Striker Almoez Ali is the current side’s highest scorer, with 34 goals in 66 matches.
Qatar finish their World Cup preparation friendlies away to Serbia and Azerbaijan in November, before beginning their Arab Cup games afterwards.
Referee: Keith Kennedy (Northern Ireland)
This is just the second ever meeting between the sides, following a 1-1 draw last March in Hungary.
Ireland’s 3-0 win over Azerbaijan last Saturday was their first competitive win since June 2019, when Mick McCarthy’s side beat Gibraltar 2-0.
In their friendlies against the Group A sides, Qatar have won two, drawn two and lost three.
Republic of Ireland 2 - 0 Qatar
Republic of Ireland
Injured: Dara O’Shea, Seamus Coleman, Ryan Manning.
Doubtful: Daryl Horgan. Josh Cullen.
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