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O’Neill ‘delighted’ to stay on as Republic boss until 2020

Manager hoping to lead Ireland to a World Cup finals for first time since 2002

“I’ve enjoyed it immensely.” Martin O’Neill at a press conference in Dublin yesterday. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Martin O’Neill has agreed to stay on as manager of the Republic of Ireland soccer team for the 2020 European Championships qualifying campaign.

Assistant manager Roy Keane and the rest of the coaching staff are also expected to stay on, although there has been no official announcement so far. While no contracts have been signed yet, O’Neill told FAI TV he had agreed to stay.

The FAI announced on Twitter that an agreement had been reached just hours after O’Neill had hinted at it in his prematch press conference on Thursday morning, saying it had been discussed with FAI chief executive John Delaney.

“I spoke to John very recently and he said on behalf of the board, they would like to extend my contract for another couple of years, obviously with the Euros coming up, and I’ve agreed to do so,” O’Neill said.

“I’m delighted. I’ve enjoyed it immensely. International football is something I didn’t know if you’d get used to or not, but obviously qualification for the Euros [in 2016] made it all worthwhile.”

With two games to go in the 2018 World Cup qualifying campaign, O’Neill can still become the first manager to lead Ireland to a World Cup finals since Mick McCarthy in 2002. Ireland go into the first of those games against Moldova in Dublin this evening knowing they must win to maintain their chances of getting to Russia next year before visiting Cardiff to face Wales on Monday in the final qualifier.

The 65-year-old has been in charge since 2013, when he took over from Giovanni Trapattoni.