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Poll: Who would you prefer Ireland to get in the play-offs?

Trap’s side will face one of either Turkey, Estonia, Bosnia or Montenegro. Who would you favour?

Estonia's Konstantin Vasslijev celebrates scoring against Northern Ireland.
Estonia's Konstantin Vasslijev celebrates scoring against Northern Ireland.

WHILE IT WAS hardly the most heroic Irish victory ever, last night’s win over Armenia was enough to earn the boys in green a coveted play-off spot.

The manner of their victory was a tad fortuitous and lady luck also smiled on Ireland elsewhere, with results across Europe meaning that they would go into Thursday’s play-off draw as one of the seeded teams.

The fact that we are seeded means we can get one of four lower-ranked European teams and have the luxury of playing the second game of the play-off at home.

So who are our potential opponents?

Turkey finished second in Group A to Germany, narrowly coming ahead of Belgium thanks to last night’s home win over Azerbaijan. Their Group A performances have at times been less than convincing, with a 1-0 loss to Azerbaijan in the corresponding away fixture representing the lowlight of their campaign.

However, although they may not have the quality of previous Turkish teams, the away trip is a daunting prospect in which Ireland would be guaranteed a hostile reception from a passionate Turkish crowd. Moreover, having once edged us out on away goals in a Euro 2000 play-off, history would also be on their side.

Estonia are a side that Ireland would not exactly fear, given that they have defeated them on several previous occasions. And their first Group C game was a decidedly unimpressive 2-1 home win over Brian Kerr’s Faroe Islands, with two last-minute injury time goals needed to secure victory.

More tellingly still, they suffered an embarrassing 2-0 loss to Kerr’s team in the corresponding away fixture. However, back-to-back victories over Northern Ireland in their final two games indicates that they improved as the campaign wore on.

Bosnia Herzegovina will undoubtedly be the team most resentful of the fact that they’re in the play-offs, given that they were less than ten minutes away from qualifying until a late Samir Nasri goal in Paris gave France the automatic qualifying spot.

Like Estonia, they began their campaign poorly, losing to France and only drawing with Albania. However, they also improved, and arguably have the best player out of all the non-seeded teams in Edin Dzeko.

Anyone who followed England’s progress in the qualifying stages will be familiar with Montenegro. They, like their unseeded counterparts, had an inconsistent qualifying campaign – drawing twice with England in impressive fashion, but also losing to Wales and failing to beat a spiritless Bulgarian team.

Again, Ireland will be respectful, if not fearful, if they come up against the Montenegrins.

So, considering all that information, who would you prefer Ireland to draw?


Poll Results:








For more info on the Euro 2012 group details, visit UEFA.com>

Read: Heroism and heartbreak: the ups and downs of Ireland’s play-off history>

Read: Trap awaits another date with destiny>

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About the author:

Paul Fennessy

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