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'It's a level playing field except that they've got the home tie' - McCarthy

The Ireland manager expects the Euro 2020 play-off semi-final with Slovakia to be a ‘difficult game’.

Mick McCarthy speaking to FAI TV.
Mick McCarthy speaking to FAI TV.
Image: Twitter/FAIreland

SO IRELAND WILL need to win two games on the road to qualify for a European championships played on home soil.

First up for the Boys in Green is a trip to Slovakia on Thursday, 26 March, with the venue yet to be announced. 

If Mick McCarthy’s side progress through that, either Northern Ireland or Bosnia-Herzegovina await in the Euro 2020 play-off final on Tuesday, 31 March.

The likelihood is that would either be hosted by the Stadion Bilino Polje in Zenica or Windsor Park. 

Speaking about the semi-final tie with Slovakia, who finished third in their group behind Croatia and Wales, the Ireland boss believes there will be little between the teams. 

“It’ll be a difficult game, no doubt,” McCarthy told FAI TV before this morning’s draw.

“People have said to me ‘well, you’ll be playing one of the poorer sides and one of third teams in the group’. I said ‘yeah, exactly like us’. That’s where we are, so I think it’s a level playing field except that they’ve got the home tie.

That always has an impact on it, having the tie in front of your home crowd, who are getting behind you, and you feel happier when you don’t have to travel. It will have an influence, but whether that is such a big influence or not, we’ll see.” 

“I want to be in the Euro finals, I want to take the team there and the players want to get there,” he added. “There’s more pressure for all of us — me, the players, the staff — because we’ve got these games in Dublin if we qualify, so that heaps the pressure.”

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Ben Blake

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