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Dublin: 8°C Thursday 22 October 2020

Kenny: We'll be better against Slovakia next month

The Irish boss said his players’ lack of match sharpness played a part in defeat to Finland.

Stephen Kenny ahead of today's defeat to Finland.
Stephen Kenny ahead of today's defeat to Finland.
Image: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

STEPHEN KENNY SUFFERED defeat in his first home game in charge of the senior international team, falling 1-0 at home to Finland at an empty Lansdowne Road. 

It means Kenny is winless from his opening games, and is running out of time to right a few wrongs ahead of the Euro 2020 playoff with Slovakia, Ireland’s next game. 

Kenny, however, says his side will be better by the time the game in Bratislava swings around. 

“It will be a big challenge going out there, we knew that, but I think we’ll be a lot better out there than we are now. 

“The players are in pre-season. You could see it today, and midfield was tired. If 5 subs were allowed I’d have made two in midfield and give fresh legs.

“Match fitness was a factor in the two games and I think in a month’s time we’ll be much better. Players found it a tough 90 minutes as they haven’t played a league game yet. There have been some really good signs from certain players that merits the idea of blooding players and having a look with next month in mind.”

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Reflecting on today’s defeat, Kenny dismissed the idea that it lays bare the scale of the job he has on his hands. 

“Not really. I always knew you couldn’t change everything overnight. Listen, I was experimental in the two games. We wanted to do better results wise for sure, I can’t deny that. But looking towards Slovakia next month, we needed to look at what attacking and midfield options for Slovakia and we’ve looked at quite a few players. The games are not friendlies. We don’t take them lightly and we wanted to win.” 

Kenny did not rule out changing from a 4-3-3 formation for that game in Slovakia, but the fact he described a switch to 3-5-2 earlier this week as a pretty radical change to make from one game to another, it looks unlikely. 

He defended today’s performance of his back four, who again looked vulnerable at stages of the game. 

“Individually the balance of the back four has been a strong part of the campaign. We were set up in such a way, as well, to protect the back four. I have no qualms and I thought they all played well. We got done early with Pukki’s chance and Darren Randolph made a good save. The goal was disappointing as that was a period when we were on top. I couldn’t believe it, the substitute scoring with his first touch.” 

About the author:

Gavin Cooney

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