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'In the old days, you'd put him in Row Z' - Kelly on keeping Ibra quiet

Ireland’s goalkeeping coach says it is vital that the team work together as a unit to snuff out Sweden’s danger man on Friday.

Zlatan during Euro 2012.
Zlatan during Euro 2012.

ALAN KELLY BELIEVES Ireland will have to work as a unit if they are to stop Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

Ireland face the Swedes in Group C of the World Cup 2014 qualifiers on Friday and with Austria coming to Dublin next week, avoiding defeat is crucial if Giovanni Trapattoni’s men are to have any hope of making it to Brazil.

Paris Saint-Germain striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic is Sweden’s main threat and the skipper will be looking to add to his return of two goals from the current campaign.

Speaking this afternoon, goalkeeping coach Kelly said: “In the old days, you’d put him in Row Z in the first minute but you’re not allowed do that anymore.

“He’s an absolutely world class player but I think it’s what you do with him as a team. Obviously the goalkeeper is one man in terms of shot-stopping and things like that, but what do you do as a team to stop the ball from getting to him? Do you screen off the space in front of him?

“All those questions go to the manager in terms of how do you set your team and your tactics up. But it’s not just about one man. Teams are wary, and rightly so, of Ibrahimovic but if you look at the rest of the team, you’ve got Olsson bombing on from left-back, (Rasmus) Elm coming deep and getting strikes on goal.

“They’re a decent team and any team that comes back from 4-0 down against Germany has obviously got a threat going forward.”

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David Forde today. Credit: INPHO/Donall Farmer

Kelly has been working alongside team analyst Brian McCarthy in preparing David Forde for the fixture and, in particular, Zlatan’s ability to strike from distance. At 33, Millwall stopper Forde has been handed the number one jersey and, after coming through recent friendly games, is in line to make his first competitive start.

And Kelly insists he fully deserves to be there.

“You can see the way he hold himself now, he’s standing taller and he’s a big lad anyway. He’s doing well for Millwall, playing week in week out, getting to the semi-finals of the FA Cup.

He’s in form. What an opportunity at 33. He’s come through the ranks, played League of Ireland and look at him now, he’s going to be playing in a World Cup qualifier.

“It’s a fantastic story and a fantastic tribute to his ability to overcome and keep working hard. If you keep doing that, this is where it can get you, and he’s done it.”

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