Saturday, September 05, 2009
An hour to kick off in Nicosia. A lot has been said about Ireland's last trip to Cyprus, that notorious 5-2 defeat three years ago but that result is not going to be replicated tonight, it was, as Marco Tardelli said this week, a freak. The real frame of reference, and hardly any more reassuring is the match that took place twelve months earlier, where we went needing a win, went 1-0 up within five minutes and then proceeded to be pummeled by a Cyprus team we had torn apart a year earlier at Lansdowne. We came away with the requisite points but few people were convinced. The seams were already coming loose on Brian Kerr's management and the vital must-win match against Switzerland the following Wednesday already seemed insurmountable. And so it proved to be. The memory of that painful win was such that I avoided watching the match a year later, sensing something bad was going to happen, and so I watched Scotland beat France instead. Ireland should win tonight, Cyprus are missing some vital players including Michael Konstantinou, who bagged two goals three years ago, but the manner of their win in Croker last October was not too convincing either. The Cypriots were hammered 6-1 by Albania in their last international. Just before the match in October 2006 they suffered a similar reversal against Slovakia. I'll be happy with 1-0.