O’Neill upbeat as Ireland faces Wales in World Cup qualifier
DUBLIN (AP) — Ireland manager Martin O’Neill is upbeat over his team’s chances of beating Wales in their must-win soccer World Cup qualifier in Cardiff on Monday.
“It’s there for us, let’s go for it,” O’Neill told Irish broadcaster RTE after their 2-0 win over Moldova on Friday.
Two goals from Daryl Murphy gave Ireland victory, while Tom Lawrence’s strike was enough for Wales to win 1-0 at Georgia and keep both sides in contention to reach Russia.
Top spot in Group D and automatic World Cup qualification is still up for grabs too after leaders Serbia slipped to a 3-2 defeat against Austria. Serbia can secure a spot in Russia with a home win over Georgia on Monday.
Wales is second, a point behind Serbia, with the Irish another point further back.
The group winner qualifies automatically for the finals in Russia. The best eight second-place finishers from the nine groups in Europe advance to the playoffs.
“It’s great. We know what we have to do, we have to win a game. We have to win a game in Cardiff and the chances are there for us,” O’Neill said.
Ireland hasn’t qualified for a World Cup since 2002. Wales’ last appearance was in 1958, when it reached the quarterfinals. Chris Coleman’s Welsh team reached the semifinals at Euro 2016, inspired by Gareth Bale.
Bale missed Friday’s win over Georgia and is also out of the showdown with Ireland after he picked up a calf injury playing for Real Madrid.
There is better news for Ireland, with James McClean and Robbie Brady available after they both served one-match suspensions. Team captain Seamus Coleman and striker Jon Walters miss out due to injury.