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'We expected a really tough game, we didn’t anticipate winning 4-0'

Stephen Kenny hailed his side’s technical qualities after a hammering of Qatar.

Stephen Kenny applauds the crowd after the game.
Stephen Kenny applauds the crowd after the game.
Image: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

STEPHEN KENNY ADMITTED he was surprised by the margin of his first home win as Ireland manager, as Qatar were hammered 4-0 at the Aviva Stadium. 

“We expected a really tough game, we didn’t anticipate winning 4-0″, said Kenny after the game. “I know they lost to Portugal the other night but they have had some good results. They’ve been at the Copa America in a group against Argentina and only lost 1-0.

“We thought we would have a really tough game tonight so to dominate in manner we did, every player’s technical quality was of a really high standard.” 

Few players hit a higher standard than Callum Robinson, who tonight became the first Irish player to score a hat-trick since Robbie Keane did so against Gibraltar in 2014. 

“I spoke to him at length some months ago, I felt that he could be our talisman”,said Kenny of his goalscorer.

“I didn’t always think I was going to play him as a number nine, I thought at times his best position was off the left.

“He can be a really significant player for us. He is very good in the group, real sort of bubbly character. A lot of decency; he has a lot of good points as a person. As a player, he has more to give. He has missed so much [gametime], which has been difficult. To get them five goals can give him real belief.”

Jeff Hendrick provided the pass for Robinson to seal his hat-trick, and Kenny hailed the midfielder’s performance. 

“It really is dramatic. Jeff went through a period when things weren’t happening for him. He was outstanding…his energy, vision and first touch.. The two players in midfield suits him. That was one of the best games I have ever seen him play.” 

Though World Cup qualification isn’t realistic, Kenny is aiming to top Ireland’s Nations League group next year, as group winners are guaranteed a play-off for the Euros in 2024. 

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“The Nations League: in June, we have four matches and our ambition is to win the group as that gives you the Euros play off. We will take the Nations League extremely seriously and will be determined to win the group. That would be what we will be looking to do going forward.”

The draw for that Nations League will be made on 16 December. 

Six months on from drawing 1-1 with Ireland in Debrecen, meanwhile, Qatar manager Felix Sanchez Bas said this performance was always latent in the Irish squad. 

“Ireland have always been a good team”, he said. “When we analyse when we played in March, they are not getting better results and the dynamic has changed, you can feel it. But the potential has always been there.” 

When asked why his players did not join the Irish players in taking the knee before kick-off, the Qatari boss said they supported the cause in their own way, by standing and applauding. 

About the author:

Gavin Cooney  / reports from the Aviva Stadium

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