Wales vs Republic of Ireland

Posted October 09, 2017

Slovenia have successfully held Scotland to a 2-2 draw in Ljubljana's Stadion Stožice. "It was great to win and sets up nicely for Monday night".

The other match in that group saw Israel win 1-0 in Liechtenstein thanks to a first-half goal from Eitan Tibi.

"They've gone further than anybody else, but again that doesn't matter tomorrow night, we just have to keep doing what we're doing".

Only eight play-off places from the nine groups are on offer and it will come down to Federation Internationale de Football Association world rankings to decide who misses out.

Manager Michael O'Neill deserves a medal for the way he has moulded his side into a formidable outfit who are on the cusp of reaching the World Cup finals for the first time since 1986. This victory and a positive outcome against Ireland on Monday 9 October will strengthen the Dragons chance of competing in October's playoff matches. A point may be okay, but we'll go for three points.

The result has put Chris Coleman's charges firmly on second place in Group D, only one point behind group leaders Serbia who slipped to a 3-2 defeat away to Austria.

Wales, unbeaten in qualifying, need only a point in Cardiff to guarantee second spot, and could top the group.

In a short spell, Murphy had tripled his worldwide goal tally in the first half, and given Ireland a shot at qualification as they chase Wales and Serbia.

Northern Ireland's joy at reaching the play-offs was tempered by Chris Brunt's wild own goal in Norway ensuring the likes of Portugal could stand between them and a place in Russian Federation next summer. Fresh from signing a new two-year deal with the Football Association of Ireland, Martin O'Neill selected Callum O'Dowda in the starting XI, who became the youngest player to start a competitive worldwide under the Irish boss. Lose by more than a goal and it makes Ireland's chances even better. Belgium have already topped the group and qualified.

Callum O'Dowda (Republic of Ireland): At just 22, O'Dowda showed the promise that suggests that he could be one of the next stalwarts for the Republic of Ireland. Murphy's two goals against Moldova made the 34-year-old an unlikely talisman, but Long has not scored in 24 matches for club and country.

However, points earned against the bottom team in each group are subtracted when considering the points totals of second-placed teams, so some maths is required.

It is of no benefit to the team to look for a draw, so I expect to see a more consistent performance from Ireland and one in which they look to take the initiative from the start.

Andy Reid, Ken Early and Dion Fanning join Aidan Power on the new SportsJOE Live with another Conor Sketches classic and Isa Nacewa on his Leinster teammates.

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