Stephen Kenny: ‘We will get back on track and give the supporters a team to be proud of’

Ireland manager strikes defiant tone against critics after draw against Qatar

The wait goes on for a win and Stephen Kenny suggested immediately after the final whistle in Debrecen that he is aware that the critics have been circling but the manager insists he is focused on the World Cup campaign as a whole and confident that he will in the end prove those who would like him to be shown the door now wrong.

“There are people coming out of the woodwork wanting to kick us while we are down. That’s been very evident and maybe it is to be expected but it doesn’t hurt me because I don’t care,” said the manager after a game in which his team led and played well for stretches but ultimately couldn’t secure the win that he needs to end his current run.

“I’ve experienced a lot in my life and I feel really strong,” he said. “It doesn’t hurt me because I know what I’m doing. We will get back on track and give the supporters a team to be proud of. My first game was six months ago and that’s part of it but I’m committed here for the campaign and the players, a lot of talented young players are just emerging into the squad. I think the future is bright.”

Asked about the fact that it is now 11 games and he is still without a win, he acknowledged that he would “prefer not to be answering that question” and that he had hoped for a far more positive start to his time in charge of the team.

“Being honest, of course I would have wanted to do better,” he said. “There’s no point in me saying otherwise but there is a lot of encouragement to be taken from a lot of the displays as well. You can see the integration of some of the younger players and the spirit and morale has been great.

“Of course we need to turn that into results, into better displays . . . we know that but we have good players to come back in Darren [Randolph], John [Egan], and others who will ensure that there is good competition there.

“We have to have a squad with intense competition. We have three games in the September window and the sheer intensity of the games; the players can’t play three games if they are not playing regularly with their clubs. We saw that some of them struggled with two in this window. After the intensity of the Serbia game they couldn’t sustain the same levels in the Luxembourg game so we need to formulate a squad and that is what we are doing.

“The Luxembourg game was disappointing . . . there’s no getting away from that. I don’t think that we deserved to lose that game but we did and we have to live with that. But tonight there was some really good football and we showed a lot of creativity over the course of the game.

"We had maybe seven of the under-21s coming into the team over the course of the game here and doing well and some of the more experienced players, like Shane Duffy, Cyrus Christie and James McClean, who got a goal on his 80th cap, doing really well too.

“Qatar were good on the break,” he continued, “they were quite dynamic on the attack but overall I thought we were the better team and had a couple of chances, two in the last seven minutes. I don’t quite know how we didn’t score so from that point of view so I’m disappointed not to have won the game.”

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