Saturday, March 24, 2007


Historic day for Irish soccer

HomeA historic day today in sport as the Ireland team participates in the first ever football match at Croke Park when they take on Wales in a Euro 2008 qualifier. Kick-off is at 3.00 pm.

I don't suspect this will be as emotional as the rugby matches were against France and England some weeks back but it should be a cracking atmosphere nonetheless.

This is a must-win game for Ireland, but particularly the manager Steve Staunton. I feel he should have been sacked long ago for the abysmal performances by the team and if we fail to pick up three points today, then that will surely be it for Stan's reign of terror.

OK I have stuck my neck out numerous times and made predictions on how the big games will go so why should today be any different? Here's how I see things going...

Ireland 2 Wales 0

This Welsh team are, to steal a line from the legendary John Giles, "no great shakes, Bill". Croke Park is expected to have a sell-out crowd of 74,000 and if that doesn't motivate the players, then nothing will. John Toshack is a far better manager than Steve Staunton but I feel there is more quality amongst the Irish team and hopefully Super Shay can save the save day if need be. Come on Ireland!

Israel 1 England 1

I heard Martin Keown say of Israel "they are not a top nation". What, and England are? Israel were a very dodgy side for Ireland during the 2006 World Cup qualifying campaign and we dropped a lot of points to them. England are a bit of a mess at the minute and the knives are out for boss Steve McClaren, which I think is harsh in his case. Rooney's been in poor form and Andy Johnson hasn't proven himself at international level so I think England could be lacking in ideas up front against a competent, competitive team. 1-1 will be the result in my opinion.

Scotland 1 Georgia 0

The Scots aren't the 16th best team in the world, despite what the rankings say, but they are a better team than Georgia and I would expect them to win seeing as they are at home.

Liechtenstein 0 England Junior aka Northern Ireland 0

The 'wee' fans of NI will certainly love the pre-match anthems today seeing as the Liechtenstein national anthem uses the same tune as God Save the Queen. Of course Northern Ireland has God Save the Queen as its anthem so now the 'inclusive' NI team (snigger) will be able to belt out their praise for the British monarch not once but twice! Oh joy! I would love nothing more than for the great pretenders of NI to suffer a humiliating defeat to the minnows of Liechtenstein but I can't see that happening. Still, in admittedly difficult conditions against a team that have been slowly improving I can see the slight possibility of NI dropping two points so I'm going with a 0-0 draw.

For the record I am quite prepared to eat humble pie if I am way off with these predictions but I am confident it won't have to come to that. As I said at the beginning, today will go down as a historic day in Irish football but one wonders if that will be partly due to this being Steve Staunton's last game in charge...

No more slip-ups lads!


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