Martin O’Neill ready for Bosnia and decider at home

FAI allocation of tickets for away leg of play-off may be as low as just 700

Speaking in Nyon, Republic of Ireland manager Martin O'Neill reacts to his team drawing Bosnia in the Euro 2016 playoff draw. Video: Reuters

 

Fans hoping to travel for the away leg of Ireland’s European Championship face a scramble for tickets after Martin O’Neill’s side were paired with Bosnia and Herzegovina in yesterday’s draw.

The game, on Friday, November 13th, is all but certain to be played in the Bilino Polje stadium in Zenica, where the Bosnians played all of their home qualifying games, but the stadium has a capacity for official international matches of just 13,632, which would make for an allocation to the FAI of less than 700 tickets.

More than five times that number travelled to Warsaw, and while travel and accommodation are both trickier for this game, demand for tickets is bound to outstrip supply at a time when there is still dissatisfaction in some quarters over the way the FAI distributes tickets to travelling supporters.

“Some people are going to miss out because there aren’t enough tickets,” said a spokesperson for supporters’ group You Boys In Green last night. “But there will be enough to look after the diehards, the ones who go to every game, and they should be looked after. We would hope that the FAI will learn the lessons of the Scotland game.”

Satisfaction

IrelandUkraine

Second Captains

“If you were to ask any of the unseeded coaches, I think they would have said Ukraine are very strong,” said the manager, who told RTÉ radio: “I think if you were to ask the eight coaches that were left in it if there was any slight advantage to be had, they might have said that it was maybe to play your second game at home. But there’s no point in thinking, ‘Ah, that’s great, we’re going to have the game in Dublin with the crowd behind us . . .’ You want to be still in the competition by that time, so we’ve got a tough job on in Bosnia, there’s no doubt at all about that.

“I saw Bosnia play in their last game, with Cyprus. It was a very exciting game because, with Israel having a difficult task in Belgium, the winners of the Bosnia-Cyprus game were almost certain to be the third-placed team, and Bosnia fought back brilliantly.

“They got a goal in front to begin with, then fell behind 2-1 as Cyprus were going well for a spell in the game, but Bosnia showed their class by winning 3-2.

“We have a couple of suspensions and the possibility of a few injuries to cope with, but we’re there and we’ll go with it. I think that the away goal in these two-leg matches takes on a great significance.”

Optimistic

Shane Long

With most of his players facing several club games between now and the play-offs, however, he pointed out that there is no certainty about who will be available, and added: “I’ll have my fingers crossed over the next few weeks that all our players come through unscathed for these matches.”

On the Bosnian side, there was apparently some disappointment at having missed out on Slovenia, who were perceived to be the most beatable of the non-seeds. Coach Mehmed Bazdarevic said that Ireland would be “difficult” for his players.

Meanwhile, the former Manchester City striker Edin Dzeko added that “the fact Ireland didn’t lose to Germany in qualifying speaks for itself. We all know they are dangerous from set pieces and that they play long balls.

“I know most of their players from the Premier League, but they know us as well. We have to give 200 per cent to progress. It would be great to have a good result in the first leg, considering the fact they will be missing some important players.”

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