As it stands: Just how bad does it look for the Republic of Ireland?

Qualification is still possible but even two wins from the final two games may not be enough.

Image: Niall Carson

THE REPUBLIC OF IRELAND have dropped to third in Group D with just two fixtures remaining.

Their next two games sees them face bottom-of-the-table Moldova before a potentially massive clash with Wales.

It’s far from ideal but Ireland still can qualify.

Group D: As it stands

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The biggest issue is that the play-off route is tricky.

There are nine groups but only the eight best runners-up will make it through. And Ireland’s numbers don’t look very good right now.

To put it in context, Wales are currently ranked the worst of all the second-placed teams. If qualification was happening right now, they’d miss out on a place in Russia next summer.

The best points tally Ireland can hope for is 19. However, in the battle for the play-offs, results against the bottom team in a group are discounted.

That would mean six points (hopefully we get all three next time out) from Ireland’s two games against Moldova would disappear, as would the goal difference and goals scored.

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Firstly, Ireland will need to take care of business and secure the runner-up spot. But, even still, they will have a poor second-placed ranking.

So, they’ll also hope the likes of Bosnia, Montenegro and Sweden – who are towards the bottom of the play-off mini-league currently – will struggle in their final two fixtures.

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About the author:

Eoin O'Callaghan

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