Kenny insists he isn't feeling the pressure as search for Nations League win goes on

Ireland have lost their opening two games of the group, and haven’t won a competitive home game in over three years.

Stephen Kenny speaking to the media at Abbottstown.
Stephen Kenny speaking to the media at Abbottstown.
Image: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

STEPHEN KENNY SAYS he feels no pressure with Ireland’s Nations League campaign going badly awry. 

Kenny spoke of topping the group but two defeats from Ireland’s two games have put paid to that ambition. It’s one part of an ugly results record: Ireland have never won a game in the Nations League – it is 12 winless games and counting – and haven’t won a competitive game of any sort at home since June 2019, against Gibraltar. 

And the games just keep on coming, with Scotland visiting the Aviva Stadium tomorrow evening.

“No, I don’t feel pressure, only internal. I’m disappointed we’ve not got points on the board [which has affected] professional pride. I thought in the game against Ukraine, I felt every player gave absolutely everything of themselves, every ounce of themselves.

“Okay, we could have maybe made better opportunities in the final third when we broke 3 v 3 a few times or 4 v 4 and we didn’t quite get the right pass or we couldn’t create the chances that we wanted to create. But we went through the game without conceding one chance, apart from right at the death in the 95th minute on the counter. Ukraine are a good team but they were restricted to long-range efforts.”

Expect a raft of changes to the starting XI tomorrow night, for what will be Ireland’s third game in a week. Seamus Coleman and John Egan will miss the game through injury: Coleman has left camp with the groin issue he picked up in Armenia, but Egan – withdrawn on Wednesday night – has not yet been ruled out of next week’s return game with Ukraine.

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What won’t change drastically is the approach, though Kenny said there would be more subtle tactical tweaks. “There is a difference between tactics and style of play”, he said. “The style of play won’t change, we are committed to that regardless. Tactically we always have to adapt. That is a different question.

“We had a good run where from March to March we scored 23 goals, which is a really high amount for an international team. Then we have come up in the last two games and come up short in front of goal. It doesn’t mean everything is wrong, it just means we haven’t capitalised on the opportunities that we’ve been given. We have to improve in that regard and we have to make sure we all work hard and believe in what we are doing and hit the back of the net.”

About the author:

Gavin Cooney  / reports from FAI HQ, Abbottstown

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