Ireland’s performance in Astana in the opening game on the road to Brazil set off alarm bells. A smash and grab raid at the death with a Robbie Keane penalty and a late show from substitute Kevin Doyle earned Giovanni Trapattoni a scarcely deserved victory. Ireland’s low morale and rudderless game-plan meant even the minnows knew how to trouble us. The cat was out of the bag.
Having endured a torrid European Championship, the rot continued in our first match following the tournament. Now the Kazakh’s arrive in Dublin to bookend the qualifiers and signal the end of a dismal campaign for Ireland.
Kevin Doyle, who earned the man of the match award in Astana, was subsequently marginalised by Trapattoni, though the player himself acknowledged last week that his club form merited his exclusion. Team-mate Stephen Ward started the game in Kazakhstan but he lost out to Marc Wilson in the following squad selections.
Tuesday’s visitors are ranked 132nd in the FIFA standings compared to Ireland’s current record low position of 59th, but with the Germany result still to be taken into account, we are likely to fall even further.
“Interim coach Noel King insists there is plenty at stake for Ireland with seedings proving a crucial factor in our quest to reach the European Championship in France in three years time.”
Despite the difficulties posed by the Kazakhs in our opening game, Ireland are expected to win comfortably in front of what is likely to be a sparse crowd at Lansdowne Road. In their last ten away games, Kazakhstan have lost 9, with a draw coming in their last outing away to the Faroe Islands, the hosts’ first point in this qualifying campaign. On the road, the Kazakhs have conceded 29 goals.
For our part, in Ireland’s last ten home matches, we’ve won four, lost three, and drawn three. The Republic have scored 16 at home but conceded 13, an extraordinary statistic given our miserly defence in qualifying for Euro 2012. Of course our last game at the Aviva Stadium was the 2-1 reverse to Sweden. Four days later, the loss in Vienna spelt the end of Giovanni Trapattoni.