Euro 2020 playoffs: Ireland face potential trip to Belfast or Bosnia in final
Mick McCarthy’s side will have to come through two away matches in space of a week
Republic of Ireland manager Mick McCarthy talks to his players after the Euro 2020 qualifier against Denmark. Photo: Morgan Treacy/Inpho
Ireland will meet Northern Ireland at Windsor Park in Belfast for a place at Euro 2020 should both sides come through their respective playoff semi-finals.
Mick McCarthy’s men will travel to meet Slovakia on March 26th in the playoff semi-finals and, if they win that, they will then head into another away clash to take on the winners of Bosnia and Herzegovina and Northern Ireland, after the draw was made in Nyon on Friday.
That final will take place on Tuesday, March 31st meaning Ireland will have to come through two away matches in the space of six days if they are to book a place at Euro 2020.
Slovakia have played every competitive match since 2016 in Trnava, 47km away from Bratislava, while the stadium in the capital was being renovated but an FAI spokesman said on Friday that they believe the match may take place in the newly-renovated ground.
“Slovakia have intimated the game will take place in Bratislava but they have some final checks to make on the ground there before they can confirm it as the venue.
“We have also opened talks with them on the allocation of tickets and will update our fans as soon as we can. We are guaranteed 5 per cent of the tickets but we are negotiating for more.
“Tickets will be allocated to supporters based on away attendance records from the last two campaigns. We will announce the application process as soon as we know our allocation.”
The Slovakian FA have until December 20th to confirm where the match will take place.
Ireland already knew their playoff opponents before the draw but the venue for the Path B final still had to be decided, as well as the fixtures and venues for Path A and C.
The draw revealed that the winners of semi-final 1 in Path B will host the final meaning a potential do-or-die meeting in Belfast is on the cards.
“I haven’t had much time to assess it as yet,” said manager Mick McCarthy. “It’ll be a difficult game, no doubt. They were in Wales’ group, so I’m sure we’ll be able to get some intel, [some] info on them. We can get it anyway, from our analyst.
“[It will be a] tough game, people have been saying to me: ‘You’ll be playing one of the poorer sides, one of the third teams in the group.’ Yeah, I said: ‘Exactly like us, that’s what we were’.
“So I think it’s a level playing field, to be quite honest. With the set-up they’ve got, they’ve got the home tie.
“It’s par for the course isn’t it? It is but I’m not worried about it. If I start worrying about it now, what is the point? We’ll hopefully have two games to play and, if we win the first in Slovakia, we’ll fancy our chances of going anywhere and getting a result.”
With five teams in Path C, it was Romania who were bumped up to Path A where they will meet Iceland in their semi-final with Bulgaria taking on Hungary in the other tie.
In Path C Scotland will face a home semi-final against Israel at Hampden Park while Serbia will travel to take on Norway.
Should Scotland see off Israel and reach the final they will take on the winners of Norway and Serbia away from home.
In Path A the winners of Bulgaria and Hungary will host the final.
Euro 2020 playoff round fixtures:
Semi-finals (March 26th): Iceland v Romania; Bulgaria v Hungary.
Final (March 31st): Bulgaria/Hungary v Iceland/Romania.
Semi-finals (March 26th): Bosnia and Herzegovina v Northern Ireland; Slovakia vs. Republic of Ireland.
Final (March 31st): Bosnia and Herzegovina/Northern Ireland v Slovakia/Ireland.
Semi-finals (March 26th): Scotland v Israel; Norway v Serbia.
Final (March 31st): Norway/Serbia v Scotland/Israel.
Semi-finals (March 26th): Georgia v Belarus; North Macedonia v Kosovo.
Final (March 31st): Georgia/Belarus v North Macedonia/Kosovo.