Republic of Ireland may have been relegated in the Nations League, but Martin O’Neill is adamant his side will be competitive in the “games that matter”.
O’Neill’s men were involved in a goalless draw in Denmark on Monday, concluding their League B campaign with just two points, yet the manager was not too dismayed by their demotion.
The former Celtic boss instead has his focus trained on next year’s Euro 2020 qualification campaign, where he believes Ireland’s young stars will deliver.
“We’ve had in the four competitive games this season, I think, eight debutants, so players are getting used to playing with each other,” O’Neill told Sky Sports.
“When it comes to the big games, I think the players will be ready. We’ve done it in the past. It’s exactly what we’ve done in the past.
“We went into the Euros [in 2016] and we were very, very strong. We got to the play-offs in the World Cup too. We’ve been very, very strong when it comes to the games that matter.”
— FAIreland (@FAIreland) November 19, 2018
Denmark midfielder Christian Eriksen offered a less flattering analysis of his opponents, claiming Ireland’s conservative tactics hinted at a fear stemming from their 5-1 play-off defeat last year.
“It was a difficult game to play,” Eriksen said. “Ireland wasted a lot of time when they could and they rarely went forward. It was difficult to break them down.
“There was a lot of defending on their side. We were playing against 11 men in their own half. They have played like this in every game we’ve played.
“Of course, in the second game in Ireland, they wanted to go forward, but they know what happened when they went forward. Maybe that’s why they’re too scared.”
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