Soccer Scene

Preview: Republic of Ireland - Cyprus
World Cup Qualifier
06.10.2001 at 00:00 - Lansdowne Road

Mick Mc Carthy yesterday claimed he would settle for a win over Cyprus by any margin - but in reality Ireland should be thinking in terms of World Cup records at Lansdowne Road today. It is stretching credibility too far to suggest that Ireland might win by a big enough margin to overtake Portugal and win the qualifying group, but Irish domestic records should be within their sights.

This is the only conclusion you can draw from an assessment of the contribution both sides have made to a competition that was largely confined to the top three of Portugal, Ireland and Netherlands. Cyprus were always involved in a race with Estonia and Andorra to avoid finishing last.

The motivation for Ireland might come from two sources - the desire to help Niall Quinn score a record 21st goal and the ambition of registering a mark that would stand to the credit of this team.

But it will come as a major shock if they do not have to go through a further qualifying tie against a team from the Asia group before they can book passage to the finals, so, in the meantime, the match against Cyprus should be exploited for other reasons.

Primarily among these, of course, is the opportunity it presents for several individuals currently on the fringe of the first-team to state a case for regular inclusion. Matt Holland, Steve Finnan, David Connolly and Mark Kennedy are foremost here.

All four were selected as starters by McCarthy because he took the very sensible course of protecting those players currently on yellow-cards to ensure they were available for a play-off. Mark Kinsella, Robbie Keane and Kenny Cunningham are three in that category and the fourth, right-back Gary Kelly, is not in the picture because he is suspended.

It was predictable that McCarthy should have pointed to Robbie Keane as the one most disappointed by his course of action as he has been in prolific form for Leeds this season. He has not scored for Ireland in his last seven matches and would love to break that sequence.

Steve Finnan created a good impression when he came in as substitute against Netherlands in that memorable win at Lansdowne Road last month but principally because of his part in setting up the winning goal for Jason McAteer.

He did not look so secure defensively against Marc Overmars but when the Dutch winger was withdrawn he developed his game quickly. Finnan plays wing-back for Fulham but it is very probable he will emerge as a very viable alternative to Ireland's first choice full-backs, Steve Carr and Gary Kelly, with further international experience.

Mark Kennedy's exceptional ability has often been highlighted here, but the brake on his development relates to an unpredictable nature. He is well capable of adding to this team but must show some consistency if he is to be taken seriously and he is given a wonderful opportunity here.

Cyprus' difficulties with injuries and suspensions should leave them vulnerable before a hungry Irish side and it is timely, perhaps, to recall Ireland's record winning margin in a World Cup tie. That was a 6-0 success over Cyprus on November 19, 1980 when Gerry Daly scored twice, once from the penalty spot, and other goals came from Tony Grealish, Michael Robinson, Frank Stapleton and Chris Hughton.

Incidentally the fact that five different players scored in that one match was also a record while the individual scoring record for Ireland in the World Cup was established by Paddy Moore, as long ago as February 25, 1934, when he scored all four goals in a 4-4 draw with Belgium. Don Givens scored four against Turkey but that was in a European Championship tie in 1975.

With World Cup fever sweeping the country Ireland will have all the backing they need to strike a peak of form on a pitch that was in beautiful condition yesterday.


H / A / N Matches W D L Goals + / -
H 5 4 1 0 15 - 1 +14
A 5 3 0 2 11 - 9 +2
N 0 0 0 0 0 - 0 +0
Total 10 7 1 2 26 - 10 +16

Date&time Comp. H / A / N Final score
05.09.2009 at 15:00 World Cup Qualifier A 1 - 2
15.10.2008 at 19:45 World Cup Qualifier H 1 - 0
17.10.2007 at 19:30 European Cup Qualifier H 1 - 1
07.10.2006 at 19:45 European Cup Qualifier A 2 - 5
08.10.2005 at 18:00 World Cup Qualifier A 1 - 0
04.09.2004 at 15:00 World Cup Qualifier H 3 - 0
06.10.2001 at 00:00 World Cup Qualifier H 4 - 0
24.03.2001 at 00:00 World Cup Qualifier A 4 - 0
19.11.1980 at 14:30 World Cup Qualifier H 6 - 0
26.03.1980 at 00:00 World Cup Qualifier A 3 - 2
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