Former Aston Villa manager Martin Oa Neil has done a great job with the Republic of Ireland side, thanking the country to the Euro 2016 playoffs. However, they cana t rest on their laurels just yet, if they want to harbour any hopes of qualifying for the main event, next year, in France.
That is because, they have been drawn against Bosnia-Herzegovina a the strongest team in the UEFA Euro 2016 playoffs.
Bosnia-Herzegovina is set to host the first leg of the tie, in the second week of November, while Ireland would be hosting the return leg in the following week. Although the dates have not been finalized, the first leg is set to take place on November 12, 13, or 14, while the tentative dates for the second leg has been set at November 15, 16, or 17.
One big worry for Martin Oa Neil is that Bosnia-Herzegovinaa s top marksman Edin Dzeko is all set to come back from his injury in time for the Euro 2016 playoffs. Ironically, Oa Neil himself does not have a striker of the calibre of Dzeko in his ranks.
While Ireland does have the likes of Shane Long and Jonathan Walters, along with the ageing talismanic forward, in Robbie Keane, Oa Neila s team lacks some serious firepower up front. In fact, the 35-year-old Keane has to fly all the way across the Atlantic Ocean whenever he is called-up by the national team, as he plies his trade at LA Galaxy in the Major League Soccer (MLS).
a Bosnia by that time will probably have Edin Dzeko back from injury,a Oa Neil was quoted, saying by The Telegraph. a They have some really decent players.a
Oa Neil went on to state that although they face the strongest team in the playoffs, he would take Irelanda s current predicament, any day, as reaching the playoffs is also a laudable task for his team. He also went on to reiterate the fact that his side may have the slight advantage as they would be playing their second leg at home.
a If you asked all the coaches if there is any advantage, ita s to play the second leg at home, so from that point of view we take some consolidation. We will give everything we have got,a Oa Neil continued.
Although they could not get direct qualification for Euro 2016, Bosnia-Herzegovina ended their group strongly, with a 2-0 victory over Wales. Ireland, on the other hand, lost their final group game 1-2, at the hands of Poland. It would be interesting to see whether the midfield of Ireland, consisting of the likes of James McCarthy, Wes Hoolahan, and Darron Gibson can overcome the might of Bosnia-herzegovina.