Republic of Ireland assistant coach Roy Keane has called on the players to earn their place at Euro 2016 with a pair of strong displays in their play-off tie with Bosnia-Herzegovina.
The Balkan side missed out on sealing a European Championships debut when they were beaten by Portugal for a spot at Euro 2012, while Ireland have progressed from this stage once in three attempts – their fourth play-off appearance will set a new record.
Ireland make the trip for the first leg in Zenica on Friday, with Bosnia unbeaten in four competitive home matches.
However, Ireland won the only previous meeting between the two sides with a 1-0 triumph in Dublin in a 2012 friendly.
Ireland finished behind Germany and Poland in their qualifying group, while Bosnia missed out on the top two spots to Belgium and Wales.
Despite an impressive 1-0 victory over the 2014 World Cup winners during qualification, Keane has urged the players to do more and earn their place at Euro 2016.
“The two games last time were big games, to beat Germany is fantastic. We didn’t perform well in Poland but had the chance to get there,” he said.
“This week is very straightforward. We know the job in hand. We’ve got to go out and do the business. If we focus on putting in a good performance and the result will take care of itself.
“Your mind-set has to be going out to win, but that can change during the course of the game.
“It would be great for the players, they have to remember that. We are in the background trying to support them, but the players have to go out and earn it.”
Ireland are awaiting injury news on Rob Elliot, John O’Shea – who will serve a ban, alongside Jonathan Walters, for the first leg – and Shane Long.
Bosnia coach Mehmed Bazdarevic is unconcerned about who Martin O’Neill opts to field and is instead focusing on ensuring his team put in a combative display.
“There is a lot of speculation and information that is accurate and that is not, when it comes to the players that will play for Republic of Ireland,” he said.
“It is up to us to prepare better. It will be very important that we play with aggression, with a lot of desire and heart, because these games are played once in a lifetime.”
Everton midfielder Muhamed Besic will be absent for Bosnia in the first leg due to suspension, but Edin Dzeko’s recovery from injury and goal in Roma’s victory over Lazio last weekend will provide a boost to their hopes.
- Soccer News Like
- Be the first of your friends!