Nations League: Kenny says Republic have 'moved on' from Armenia as they face war-torn Ukraine

by Steven Smith
3 minutes read
Shane Duffy shows his disappointment after the Republic of Ireland's shock defeat by Armenia on Saturday
Shane Duffy looks likely to captain the Republic of Ireland because of Seamus Coleman’s injury-enforced absence
Nations League Group B1: Republic of Ireland v Ukraine
Venue: Aviva Stadium, Dublin Date: Wednesday, 8 June Kick-off: 19:45 BST
Coverage: Live text commentary, match report & reaction on the BBC Sport website

Republic of Ireland manager Stephen Kenny says his squad have “moved on quickly” from Saturday’s 1-0 defeat by Armenia as they prepare to face Ukraine in Wednesday’s Nations League game.

War-torn Ukraine endured even bigger weekend disappointment in losing their World Cup play-off to Wales.

After his side’s Yerevan defeat, Kenny says that he knew that an inquest of sorts would inevitably follow.

“When you lost to Armenia, you have to accept criticism,” said the Irish boss.

“You get your kicks in the teeth and have to dust yourself down and go again.

“We analysed the game and debriefed. Ukraine is a completely different challenge tactically. We’ve got to switch on quickly to make sure we’re ready.”

Republic’s 11-game winless Nations League run

On the face of it, a game against the devastated Ukrainians, with the Russian invasion showing no sign of ending anytime soon, should offer Kenny’s side an opportunity to end their dismal 11-game winless run in the Nations League.

However, the Irish have problems on the right side of their defence with squad skipper Seamus Coleman joining Matt Doherty as an absentee after sustaining a groin injury in Yerevan.

Cyrus Christie, looking for a new club after being released by Fulham, looks the obvious replacement but uncapped Festy Ebosele, set to begin a Serie A career with Udinese after moving from Derby County, is another option for Kenny.

The likes of Dara O’Shea, James McClean, Jason Knight and Alan Browne could also come into the starting line-up given the need to keep the squad fresh with Saturday’s home game against Scotland and the return match with Ukraine in Poland next Tuesday still to come.

Chiedozie Ogbene looks likely to retain his place in attack despite missing the Republic’s best goal-scoring opportunity in Yerevan when he headed over just before half-time.

Despite dominating possession in the first half, the Republic failed to create many chances and then badly lost their way in the second half as the 92nd-ranked Armenians took control.

Ukraine's Manchester City star Oleksandr Zinchenko is consoled by referee Antonio Mateu Lahoz after Sunday's World Cup play-off defeat by Wales
Oleksandr Zinchenko (right) and his Ukraine team-mates are having to regroup from the devastation of missing on a World Cup place

Wednesday’s game sees the 47th-ranked Irish taking on a side 20 spots higher in the Fifa ratings but having to regroup from the devastation of missing out on the Qatar finals.

Ukraine boss Oleksandr Petrakov appears likely to make changes from the 1-0 defeat in Cardiff.

Manchester City’s Oleksandr Zinchenko remains in the squad after playing at the weekend but with three further Nations League games coming up for the Ukrainians over the next week, including the return match with the Republic, a shuffling of the pack seems likely.

Dynamo Kyiv forward Artem Dovbyck, said to be attracting interest from Premier League new boys Nottingham Forest, could be drafted into the attack after coming on late in the Cardiff game.

Dovbyck scored Ukraine’s late third goal in the 3-1 play-off semi-final win over Scotland last week but it wasn’t enough to earn him a starting role at Cardiff City Stadium.

Shane Duffy, who could take the Republic’s captaincy in Coleman’s absence, spoke on Tuesday of his admiration for Ukraine’s efforts in coming so close to securing a place at the World Cup amid the turmoil in their country.

“They should be really proud of how they handled themselves, especially in the last two games, carrying their country, and I think everyone was willing them to try and get to the World Cup,” said the Derry man.

“We know it’s really emotional times for everyone there, so it will be a special game and one we’re all really looking forward to.”

You may also like

This file is for domain verification. copyright This file is for domain verification. copyright