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Dublin: 15 °C Thursday 13 August, 2020

'We have great, young Irish players and we want to show the potential they've got' - Kenny

The Ireland U21s manager is already looking ahead to Thursday’s meeting with Mexico after getting the Toulon Tournament off to a winning start.

Ireland U21 boss Stephen Kenny speaking to FAI TV.
Ireland U21 boss Stephen Kenny speaking to FAI TV.
Image: YouTube

STEPHEN KENNY COULD hardly have asked for a better start to the Toulon Tournament, after watching the Ireland U21s claim a 4-1 victory over China’s U23s yesterday. 

Two goals inside the opening five minutes — from Waterford’s Zak Elbouzedi and Aaron Connolly of Brighton — put the Boys in Green in the driving seat against Guus Hiddink’s men, and Norwich City striker Adam Idah converted a pair of penalties in the second half to cement the result. 

Speaking to FAI TV, Kenny explained how he was happy with his side’s ability to control the game and take their chances. 

“We’re absolutely delighted to score like that within 23 seconds with an absolutely brilliant goal by Zak Elbouzedi,” said Kenny.

“It was a great team goal. The players performed really, really well so I’m very pleased. That Chinese team have had some good performances and we’ve seen them play very well. 

“The goals were at critical times, so we made it look easier than it could have been. We’re trying to raise the technical standard of the players. We have great, young Irish players and we want to really show the potential that they’ve got. 

“That’s the level that they’ve set, in the last game and this one, and they can take great encouragement from that.”

Next up is Thursday’s meeting with Mexico (6.30pm), which should prove to be a much tougher test, before they take on Bahrain on Sunday (2pm).

With the winner from each of the three groups joined in the semi-finals by the best-placed runner-up, Kenny believes Ireland need to aim for top spot. 

“We can’t dwell too much on this because we’ve got a game Thursday and that’s the nature of tournament football,” he added. 

“Mexico are favourites, having been in the final [by England] last year with the same group of players. It’s a very talented Mexican team, and they’ve been in Europe a lot this year.

We’ve got to focus on just beating them on Thursday. Had we lost today, you’re virtually out of the competition because you have to win the group. The best second-place out of the three groups goes through to the semi-final, but you can’t rely on that. 

“You have to try to win the group, so it was important we won here. I’ve not seen China beaten like that, they’ve had a lot of tight games, so we’ve got to take confidence from that into Thursday.”

Watch all the goals here, and the full interview with Kenny is below: 

Source: FAI TV/YouTube

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Ben Blake

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