'Whoever we got was going to be tough but I think most people were hoping for that'

Ireland’s Cyrus Christie and Darren Randolph react to drawing Denmark in the World Cup play-off draw.

Randolph: 'I'm very happy with that draw. Hopefully we can go and do the job.'
Randolph: 'I'm very happy with that draw. Hopefully we can go and do the job.'
Image: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

THE DRAW FOR the 2018 World Cup play-off is done and dusted, and the Republic of Ireland have been paired with Denmark.

The Boys in Green will face the side who finished second in Group E in a two-legged play-off next month. The first clash will take place in Copenhagen on Saturday, 11 November, before a return fixture at the Aviva Stadium on Tuesday, 14 November.

Speaking to Sky Sports after the draw was made, Ireland goalkeeper Darren Randolph said he was content with the outcome.

“Very happy with that draw,” the 30-year-old smiled. “Being away the first leg and then the second leg obviously back in Dublin.”

Alongside defender Cyrus Christie, they were asked if Denmark were the side they would have handpicked themselves. Both laughing at first, they eventually answered the question.

“It probably was, yeah,” Randolph continued. “I’m very happy with that draw. Hopefully we can go and do the job.”

Christie echoed his words: “I think most people were probably hoping for that.

“They’re going to be a strong team, whoever we got was going to be tough opposition but it’s good that we’re playing away from home first and then the second leg in Dublin.”

Having come through Group D as runners-up thanks to last week’s 1-0 win over Wales, Randolph reflects on the campaign so far as a successful one and credits his side for the huge result in Cardiff.

Cyrus Christie Christie in action in Cardiff. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

“It’s been a good campaign. We had a great start to the group, it actually set us up nicely. The final game against Wales, we wanted to get the job done and secure a play-off spot.

“We defended well [in Cardiff]. We did all of the jobs we needed to do, frustrated Wales and killed the atmosphere, which obviously helped us.

“We knew we could get at least one chance, we needed to take it when we did. And luckily enough, James managed to do that.”

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They’re 180 minutes away from booking their ticket to Russia, but neither will get too carried away just yet. There are two games to be played first.

Earlier in the campaign, in the meeting with Wales in March, Seamus Coleman suffered a double leg break as the result of a tackle from Wales defender Neil Taylor.

And Christie says that that gave the players further intention and drive to reach the World Cup finals.

“All of our intentions. Obviously with Seamus being injured, that we wanted to get to the World Cup for him.

Robbie Brady and Seamus Coleman celebrate Coleman celebrates reaching the play-offs with his team-mates. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

“He’s a big miss and he’s our captain, and at the end of the day, he’s a great player. He has been a big miss in this campaign and I think if you ask many of the lads, they’ll want to do it for him.”

With Martin O’Neill signing a new deal with the FAI to extend his stay as manager up to 2020, the Middlesborough defender noted that he’s instilled a serious amount of belief in the squad.

“He makes you feel like you’re a good player and he gives you the belief to go out there. I think you can see from our performances that the lads believe in each other, and in the squad that we’ve got. We’re capable of beating people on our day.”

And his right-hand man Roy Keane, does he have a similar influence?

“They’re both very different characters,” Randolph grins. “I’ll leave it at that!”

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Ireland drawn with Denmark for 2018 World Cup play-off

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Emma Duffy

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