Republic of Ireland v Denmark: Martin O'Neill draws on spirit of 2015 ahead of World Cup play-off

 
Frank Dalleres
Follow Frank
Denmark v Republic of Ireland - FIFA 2018 World Cup Qualifier Play-Off: First Leg
O'Neill defended his tactics following criticism from Danish players (Source: Getty)

Republic of Ireland manager Martin O’Neill is hoping to draw on the experience of two years ago when they face Denmark for a place at next summer’s World Cup on Tuesday night.

O’Neill’s team held Bosnia 1-1 in the first leg of their Euro 2016 play-off before beating them 2-0 at home in the return match – an outcome he hopes to recreate against the Danes, following their goalless clash in Copenhagen on Saturday.

“We had the experience of the play-off a couple of years ago almost to the day,” he said. “The evening in Dublin against Bosnia was really fantastic. The crowd has been really important and they have given us phenomenal support and sometimes they have carried us through.”

Read more: O'Neill proud after Northern Irish push Swiss all the way

O’Neill said his players had “gained a great deal” from previous big games and responded to criticism of his safety-first tactics from Denmark midfielder Thomas Delaney, who compared trying to score against the Republic of Ireland was like attempting “to open a can of beans with your bare hands”.

“We have talent in our side. It would be lovely to have a prolific goalscorer that you can turn to, but if you don’t have that you have to find other ways, and that’s what we’ve had to do,” he said.

“There is a terrific spirit, a never-say-die spirit. We have to find that one more time. I think there might be a bit more room for both teams tomorrow night. It is going to be tough game and everything can happen.”

The hosts will be under pressure to score as even a score draw would send Denmark through to the finals in Russia. The Republic of Ireland scored just 12 times in the group stage of qualification – three times fewer than any other team to reach the play-offs.

Hull midfielder David Meyler is set to return to the starting line-up, having been suspended for the first leg, while O’Neill could recall Southampton forward Shane Long, who has not scored in any competition since 11 February.

Read more: Ireland sink Azzurri to make history and reach last 16

Related articles