As a Republic of Ireland supporter we have learnt to expect a disappointing result or two along the way in a campaign. It’s still a shock to the system when Stephen Kenny’s boys in green fail to break down a very average Amenian team.
RTE’s Didi Hamann and John O’Shea were in positive mood before the game, predicting a comfortable two or three goal victory for Ireland. That never looked like materialising from the very first minute.
A sloppy and sluggish start from the starting eleven set the tone for the rest of the game. This Armenian side never got moved around the pitch and kept their shape with ease.
Chiedozie Ogbene stood out as Ireland’s best hope to create something with a man of the match performance. He worked hard, ran at players, got crosses in and looked dangerous. Although his miss with a free header just before half-time could have changed the game entirely.
Ireland had the greater percentage of possession (68%) but could only muster up two shots on target. David Yurchenko in the Armenian goal wouldn’t have had too many easier games than today in the Vazgen Sargsyan Republican Stadium.
So why such a poor performance from an Ireland team who hadn’t lost in their last eight games? Was the heat a factor?
Yes it’s a factor but no it’s not the reason for this Irish side underperforming. From minute one Ireland were slow, lethargic and looked to take this game for granted.
The ball was predictably moved from one side of the pitch to the other. Rarely skipping a player to pick up the pace of the game.
Lack of Urgency
Lack of With the exception of Ogbene, the team lacked penetration. There was no answers in the final third of the pitch. No individual moments of brilliance, no invention and no quickness of thought.
Jeff Hendrick starting in this game in centre midfield was truly baffling. He has rarely been a stand out player for Ireland in that position and club form/performances don’t back the decision to play him there.
There is no way I am trying to make Hendricks as a scapegoat here. The team just underperformed. I do think the team looked very open down the middle and feel other players are better suited to protecting the back three.
Overall it’s a game that everyone involved from an Irish perspective will want to forget. Wednesday brings Ukraine to Dublin. Stephen Kenny’s men are going to need to bring a whole new level of urgency if they want to get anything from that game.