John O'Shea. Ryan Byrne/INPHO

O'Shea admits to frustration after goalless draw that Belgian boss deems 'boring'

O’Shea’s first game in charge finished all square.

IRELAND’S INTERIM BOSS John O’Shea admitted to a level of frustration after Ireland’s goalless draw at home to Belgium. 

In a game of few chances, Ireland missed the best of them when Evan Ferguson saw his penalty saved in the first-half. That was Ireland’s only shot on target, although Belgium only managed two themselves. 

“It’s a frustrating one”, said O’Shea in his post-match press conference. “You appreciate Belgium had a decent bit of possession but we felt beforehand we wouldn’t mind that as we knew the damage we could create against them on the break.

“If we take those chances when they arrive in the game, it would open up Belgium in the game and we could exploit it even more. Frustrating one in that sense: you’re playing Belgium in Dublin, you’d take a clean sheet but a little bit disappointed in the end too.” 

Ferguson’s missed penalty means he has now gone 20 games for club and country without a goal, but O’Shea is unworried, confirming Ferguson was the team’s first-choice penalty taker. 

“It was just unfortunate Ev had a little slip just before he knocked it so it would have put him off”, said O’Shea. “A youngster stepping up like that, it shows the courage he has and he didn’t let it affect him, he knocked into the centre backs as soon as he could again and got his confidence going.

“He will be ready to go as soon as we need him to. He will have another spell five or six years down the line with a couple of months without a goal, it happens to top strikers. As soon as he gets on the goal trail he will back on a run.”

Belgian manager Domenico Tedesco gave the game a resolute thumbs down. 

” A more or less boring game, low rhythm, many difficulties to build up game, slow passes, no sharpness”, he replied when asked to assess the game, comparing it to an end-of-season summer friendly. 

“It was really difficult to find the right shape, we took many minute at the beginning of the game to get the structure we needed. It was better at end of first half. The second half was slow. Just slow.

“It was not easy. It’s not easy for the players, the game was boring from my point of view, with not many chances from both sides. If you look at the second half, they didn’t shoot once on our goal, and we had one shot with Thomas [Meunier]. 

“They defended in 5-4-1 and we had no spaces between the lines, and then if you play slowly and pass slowly then it’s difficult. It’s easy for them to move and close the spaces.”


domenico-tedesco Domenico Tedesco. Ryan Byrne / INPHO Ryan Byrne / INPHO / INPHO

His side were without Kevin de Bruyne and Romelu Lukaku, and Tedesco admitted the game was largely an exercise in experimentation ahead of the European Championships. One such example was the second-half sub which saw Everton midfielder Amadou Onana play at centre-back. 

“We have to test now, if we don’t test now we won’t have [the opportunity.] “We calculated we would lack intensity and structure, we knew this and it is not a problem.” 

O’Shea didn’t quite agree with his opposite number’s review. 

“What, no sharpness from his team? We had the best chances, we were aware beforehand that they would go with that 4-3-3 shape. With the talented squad that they have, they made changes and the players they had coming on are talented youngsters playing at top clubs around Europe, so it was going to be a challenge.

“But when you saw the chances we created early on, big chances, it was exactly what we had worked on: to be compact, aggressive, look for the tens [Ogbene and Szmodics]. It was a shame we didn’t get the rewards in that sense from that first half, especially that was the big thing for me.” 

Your Voice
Readers Comments
This is YOUR comments community. Stay civil, stay constructive, stay on topic. Please familiarise yourself with our comments policy here before taking part.
Leave a Comment
    Submit a report
    Please help us understand how this comment violates our community guidelines.
    Thank you for the feedback
    Your feedback has been sent to our team for review.

    Leave a commentcancel