Ireland’s quest for Euro 2016 qualification resumes in Faro, Portugal, against a fast-improving Gibraltar side. Daniel Griffin of footballgibraltar has the lowdown on the new look hosts.
In my preview for the game in Dublin last year, I suggested that Ireland should not expect a massive win against Gibraltar. Instead, the visitors put in what is still their worst performance of the tournament and shipped seven goals before substituting keeper Jordan Perez.
Since then, coach Allen Bula has left, Gibraltar scored their first goal against Scotland, and the new management team of former Brighton manager Jeff Wood, assisted by David Wilson, have implemented a style that allowed the team to show against Germany how a 7-0 defeat does not have to accompany a lacklustre performance.
“In fact, Gibraltar could have been accused of being slightly wasteful against the world champions, as they fashioned seven shots on target, but couldn’t find a way past Roman Weidenfeller in goal.”
After being taken off in Dublin, it was presumed we wouldn’t see much of Perez in a national shirt for the foreseeable future, but a friendly against Croatia in June allowed the fire-fighter to stake a claim for his place. He successfully managed this in a 4-0 defeat, and got the nod to start against the Germans, where he saved a penalty from Bastian Schweinsteiger and limited the World Cup winners to 1-0 at half time.
The latest national squad contains a couple of notable absentees from what could be considered the first eleven. Scunthorpe defender Scott Wiseman has been allowed to stay at his club to continue his recovery from a hamstring injury suffered last season, while Adam Priestley, playing in the eighth tier of English football for Shaw Lane Aquaforce, wasn’t deemed fit enough to make the squad. Other than that, the majority of the team from last October remains and will make up the first eleven.
Everyone accepts that the result is most likely a foregone conclusion. Martin O’Neill will be able to name a team that should record a comfortable win to keep alive their hopes of a top three finish in what has been an incredibly tight group. Goal difference may not be as important for getting third in the group, but I’d expect Ireland to score at least four or five in Faro.