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Dublin: 0 °C Monday 30 March, 2020

'Why should a young player suffer because of an opponent cheating and an official being misled?'

Colin O’Brien is standing firm on his comments following Monday’s controversial red card against the Czech Republic.

IRELAND U17 MANAGER Colin O’Brien has issued a rallying call to his players ahead of their crunch group game with Belgium tomorrow evening and has again criticised the behaviour of certain opponents at this year’s European Championships.

Colin O'Brien Ireland U17 manager, Colin O'Brien. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Ireland coughed up a last-minute goal against Greece to earn a 1-1 draw in their opening game of the tournament last Friday. The controversial goal, which had been flagged initially by the linesman before being given by officials, denied the tournament hosts a winning start to their campaign.

There would be more headlines involving O’Brien’s side on Monday evening when Festy Ebosele was sent off for a second yellow after he collided with Jan Hellebrand, who subsequently went down.

Replays, however, showed that contact was minimal. The Ireland boss vented his frustration after the game and speaking today in quotes published by the FAI, stood by his comments.

“We are still bitterly disappointed with what happened in our last game against Czech Republic,” he said.

“This tournament is meant to be about the development of young players, so surely that means enabling them to play as many games as possible.

If that is the case then why should a young player suffer because of an opponent cheating and an official being misled?

“Our player, and our team, suffers because of an injustice. After the game in Waterford, I was fired up and spoke about appealing the decision.

Of course, I knew the rules but what I was referring to was appealing against the Czech player cheating and the referee being conned.

“We have to stand up and fight against this, especially in an elite tournament where the focus should be on developing players for the future.

And part of that should be stamping out cheating.”

Festy Ebosele with Referee Rade Obrenovic Ireland's Festy Ebosele was sent off by referee Rade Obrenovic on Monday evening. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Ireland now look ahead to Thursday night’s game at Tallaght Stadium knowing a win would put them into the quarter-finals for a third consecutive year.

All four teams in Group A can still qualify for the knock-out stages. Greece face the Czech Republic on Thursday and have a simultaneous kick-off time of 7pm.

“This game against Belgium presents a massive opportunity for our players – who have showed great spirit to secure two points already in this tournament – to secure a place in the quarter-finals,” O’Brien continued.

We have had fantastic support in our two games so far and we hope that Tallaght Stadium will be rocking on Thursday night.

“These players deserve to have a strong support behind them and I’m sure that they will respond by giving it everything in what is a huge game.”

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