Kenny takes the positives despite going 8 games without a win
Republic of Ireland Boss Stephen Kenny says there are positives to take from his first 8 games in charge – despite not picking up a single win in that time.
Last night’s scoreless draw with Bulgaria at the Aviva Stadium now means that the boys in green haven’t scored in the last 11 hours – however the point means they avoid relegation to League C of the Nations League.
The result also means that Ireland will be in pot 3 when the draw for the World Cup qualifiers takes place next month.
It was a frustrating night for Ireland as Robbie Brady hit the crossbar while Ronan Curtis fluffed his lines with a glorious chance.
Kenny was without 14 of his originally named 26 man squad for the game, due to a combination of Coronavirus withdrawals, injury and suspension.
However the former Dundalk boss says that their recent games have prepared them well for the World Cup qualifiers.
“We appreciate the players’ commitment over the last couple of windows, because it hasn’t been easy for them.
“They’ve given everything. We’ve gotten a lot of food for thought now for the World Cup qualifiers, a lot of people have put themselves forward. I think we will have competition for places, genuine competition for places.
“The World Cup qualifiers are in March, three games. We haven’t been in a World Cup since 2002. It’s something to get excited about, those qualifiers.
“We have to prepare really well, we’ll be all the better for what we’ve learned over the last few windows, we’ll be all the better for that – myself, all the coaching staff.
“I think we’ve a lot to look forward to in March when we finalise the group [of players], and I think we’re going to have a fair degree of quality overall.”
Kenny admits that last night’s game was a frustrating one, and they had chances to win it over the 90s minutes.
“We’re disappointed that we didn’t win the game. We know we didn’t play well first half today, but I think we played really well in the second half for periods.
“I think that the fact that players have had to endure what they’ve had to endure, having to deal with Covid related issues almost every day in the camp. It’s very unsettling for people, for players with families. It’s very unsettling for them in their lives with their connected families, and it’s been a very difficult period over the last two windows over that.
“We lost some players through bereavement – James McCarthy’s father passed away. We lost players through concussion, Adam Idah’s knee injury in a tackle the other day. We’ve had a lot of injuries, a lot of players who came into camp got injured. Probably over the last two camps we’re missing players in double figures.
“Regardless all of the players showed a brilliant mentality, took everything in their stride and applied themselves correctly. And I applaud them for that determination, even though we didn’t win the game.
“We had three debutants in the team, we weren’t very cohesive, our passing was a bit erratic. We never really got our wingers into the game, until Daryl Horgan did a brilliant bit of skill and put it on the back post for James Collins – that was a brilliant piece of individual skill.
“We caused a lot of our own problems, with careless passes that were intercepted. They didn’t really have any chances, but they had some passages of decent play.
“Second half I thought we were much better, we played quite well. Obviously Robbie Brady’s shot off the crossbar was a brilliant, brilliant effort. Ronan Curtis, James Collin had chances. All the other substitutes came on I felt contributed.
“Overall I feel it gives us a much greater scope for the qualifiers in March. We had players who made their first competitive starts tonight, Ronan Curtis, Ryan Manning and Jason Knight, who really shone I felt tonight, together with players who had played in the campaign like Troy Parrot, Aaron Connoly, Adam Idah, Jason Molumby, Dara O’Se, they’re new players who are going to challenge for first team places, and we’re going to need that. Particularly if there’s going to be three games in a window.”