Stephen Kenny expects Cristiano Ronaldo to try to plan Ireland’s fall from the wing in next Thursday’s World Cup qualifier against Portugal.
The Portuguese captain has been deployed in his usual central area since returning to Manchester United in September, with his firepower propelling his Champions League campaign.
Ireland’s last encounter on September 1 began in the middle of the match as well, but turned away when the top seed in the group chased a one-goal deficit.
And Andre Silva, introduced by Fernando Santos at the break that night in Faro, has retained the lone striker position in the four games since. Portugal scored 14 goals in those four victories, although six of them came against Qatar friendly.
Speaking yesterday when announcing his team’s final double-header which includes a trip to Luxembourg on November 14, the Ireland coach gave his thoughts on Ronaldo’s threat.
While Ireland’s hopes of qualifying again evaporated in September, Portugal slipped away from leaders Serbia by one point in search of a single automatic ticket to Qatar next year. Santos completed its campaign against the Serbs in Lisbon.
Kenny saw Ronaldo’s ammunition first hand as his late pair saved the 2-1 win for the Portuguese last time out.
The leading international scorer in history increased his tally to 115 goals from 182 caps over the next two matches and will look to glory in front of 51,000-
Crowd capacity in Dublin.
“Ronaldo who is 36 years old is a different threat than he was when he was 26 but still has the ability to score goals,” said Kenny. the summer. But in the second half against us, he played tight on the left with Andre Silva going up front.
“Since Silva joined the team, Portugal has scored a lot of goals. So Ronaldo may not play as a central attacker against us.
“He can do a tight surgery on the left where it’s hard to pick up. He has a quick skill set as most wingers never have the ability to head the ball from crosses the way he did two goals against us.
“He evolved from being a winger at Sporting Lisbon, to Manchester United as a right winger. Then on the left for being a prolific heartthrob. Even during some of his time at Real Madrid, he played the left side.”
The Ireland coach is satisfied that his team found their shooting boot late.
They’ve only scored once in Kenny’s first eight games at the helm, but the seven missed games against Azerbaijan and Qatar – five from Callum Robinson – boost confidence for these dead rubber.
The only recovery Ireland can save from a terrible campaign is third in the table, but that would require a maximum of six points if, as expected, Luxembourg tops bottom-line Azerbaijan on Thursday.
Aaron Connolly won’t be part of the ending, after Kenny reports an issue with Achilles making him unavailable. This culminates in a disappointing year for Galluigi, who feels Kenny faces a looming dilemma at Brighton and Hove Albion. He even suggested that a second-tier routine, where he could end up on loan, might suit him better.
Kenny said of the eight-times crowned striker who appeared on the scene in 2019 with a double against Tottenham.
“Aaron is the type of character where the level of focus from the championship season is great. There is the intention of playing 46 games, discipline yourself for matches on Saturday and then Tuesday. And on Wednesday, knowing you have to come back again on Saturday.
“It’s a different focus than the Premier League, where there is only one match a week. You probably won’t play and then only train over a period of time. It’s very difficult for a young striker to get sustainable chances in the Premier League. Even for the strongest of players, they can That would erode your soul.”
Seamus Coleman will be among the 26 players Kenny will gather on Sunday, having missed the final window with a hamstring injury. However, the 33-year-old won’t start back-to-back games, a lesson he clearly learned from playing against Azerbaijan in September. “It’s something we have to examine in terms of some issues,” Kenny said.
There may be little at stake in terms of qualification but Kenny’s continuity in the job is at stake.
He needs to avoid a second disaster against Luxembourg in order for the council to extend its contract, which will expire next July.
“Regardless of any contract discussion, we want to make two strong bids,” he said. “It’s not something I focus on. The only thing that experience teaches is knowing that there are some things you can’t influence.”
“You do things and make decisions based on what you feel is right, and you stand behind your convictions. If that’s good enough, that’s fair enough. From my perspective, I intend to be the Nations League campaign manager next year.”