Ireland to begin Euro 2020 qualifying against Gibraltar
Mick McCarthy’s team will face Switzerland twice in the closing stages of the campaign
Republic of Ireland manager Mick McCarthy at the draw for Euro 2020 qualification. Phootgraph: Sportsfile
The Republic of Ireland will kick their qualification campaign for Euro 2020 off with games against Gibraltar and Georgia in March, a double header that Mick McCarthy will hope might help his side establish a firm foundation on which to build their challenge to the group’s top two seeds.
Ireland will face Switzerland twice in the closing stages of the campaign, at home on September 5th and away on October 15th. But their fate may well ultimately come down, once again, to a do or die game with Denmark who will return to the Aviva stadium for a third time in two years for the last round of games in November.
No venue has been confirmed yet for the Gibraltar game although officials from their association were adamant at the draw on Sunday that their preference is to play on home soil rather than, as they did last time against Ireland, in the Algarve.
The Victoria stadium in Gibraltar, though, has a capacity of just 2,300 and should they get permission to press ahead with the qualifier there, as they did with their Nations League games in recent months, there is bound to a scramble amongst fans for the couple of hundred tickets that the FAI would be entitled to.
The venue for the game in Switzerland is also uncertain with the federation still to decide where they will put each of their home qualifiers but the Danes seem certain to return to Copenhagen for their meeting with Ireland in June after the team relocated to Aarhus for the Nations League campaign, in part because of a dispute over the cost of hiring the stadium in the capital and in part because they felt the smaller ground would be filled closer to capacity.
That game is comfortably Ireland’s most challenging before the summer break although there is clearly the potential to slip up in one of the others. McCarthy, though, seems likely to be pleased that his first games back in charge are not crunch fixtures with key qualification rivals.
Ireland also have two slots open for friendlies, one in October and one in November, a few days before that final tie against the Danes.
Two of the five teams will progress automatically with Ireland all but certain to have the fall back of a play-off for one of the four additional places available at the finals via the Nations League in the event that they do not manage to topple one of the seeded sides.
Fixtures: Mar 23rd: Gibraltar (A) 17:00; Mar 26: Georgia (H) 19:45; Jun 7th: Denmark (A) 19:45; June 10th: Gibraltar (H) 19:45; Sep 5th: Switzerland (H) 19:45; Oct 12th: Georgia (A) 14:00; Oct: 15th: Switzerland (A) 19:45; Nov 18th: Denmark (H) 19:45.