Euro 2016 play-offs: Ireland battle Bosnia and Herzegovina
Lee Gormley | November 12, 2015
Bosnia and Herzegovina v Republic of Ireland
- Euro 2016 play-offs
- Friday, November 13th
- Kick-off: 19:45 GMT
- Bilino Polje, Bosnia and Herzegovina
- Live on Sky Sports 1
Ireland battle Bosnia and Herzegovina
Martin O’Neill’s Republic of Ireland make the daunting trip to south Eastern Europe for their Euro 2016 play-off first leg encounter with Bosnia and Herzegovina, holding plenty of injury and suspension concerns, against a nation who are on a three-game winning streak.
The hosts ended their Group B campaign with three successive victories over Andorra, Wales and Cyprus, while the Irish finished Group D proceedings with a decisive defeat to Poland, summoning them to third-place, despite previously toppling Germany.
O’Neill’s Boys in Green will have to emulate that brilliantly defiant performance over the world champions in Dublin if they are to overcome Mehmed Bazdarevic’s home outfit, and the visitors are 10/3 with Coral for another famous victory.
Long among absentees
Although, the travelling Irish will be hampered by several key absences, with stalwart defender John O’Shea and Stoke City frontman Jonathan Walters missing out through suspension, while Shane Long was ruled out with injury.
The Southampton striker hasn’t featured since striking the stunning goal past Manuel Neuer at the Aviva Stadium, with veteran goalkeeper Shay Given, Newcastle United stopper Rob Elliot and Paul McShane joining him on the sidelines.
Darron Randolph played in the last two Group D qualifiers for Ireland and is expected to start ahead of David Forde, with Charlton’s Stephen Henderson having earned a call-up due to these injuries, while Hull midfielder David Meyler is also a doubt.
Whelan key to Irish success
Despite losing many high-profile stars for this first leg liaison, O’Neill can welcome back Stoke City enforcer Glenn Whelan, with the Dubliner set for a potentially decisive battle with Roma midfielder Miralem Pjanic.
Whelan will be the man in charge of thwarting the threat of this crafty Serie A playmaker, who is 2/1 to strike anytime on home turf, following his involvement in 10 goals in as many outings this term during Italy’s top tier division.
With five goals and five assists so far in Serie A, the most creative player in the league, Whelan will have his hands full in the centre, but the Irish midfielder proved he is capable of thwarting such a threat after helping stop Eden Hazard and co last weekend in a Potters win over Chelsea.
Coleman faces familiar face
There’s a battle within the war in Zenica, as Everton pair Seamus Coleman and Muhamed Besic go head-to-head for Euro 2016 progression with their respective countries.
The hosts are 9/2 to secure victory and both teams scoring (£20 max stake) with Besic in their ranks, but Coleman is dreaming of helping Ireland reach France ahead of his Premier League teammate.
“We’re showing a bit of respect – it’s too important even for banter. We’re not really having banter about it. We’ve talked about it,” stated Coleman.
“Mo [Besic] is a great lad and I’ve great time for him but hopefully he’s a loser on the weekend.
“We’ve been talking about it..”
“It [qualification] is always at the back of your mind. We’ve been talking about it. It’s that big that you can’t really forget about it. Obviously you put your club first for the time being because you’ve got to play games but it’s always there.
“When you come home in the evening you’re thinking of France. It’s only natural. I’d be gutted [if I retired without playing in a major tournament]. I don’t want to finish without playing for Ireland at a big tournament.”
Roma targetman Edin Dzeko will undoubtedly be a key threat to Irish qualifying hopes, and the former Manchester City marksman is 3/1 to fire his country to victory, while the visitor’s all-time scorer Robbie Keane is 9/1 to strike in an Ireland win, with both odds having a £20 max stake.
Meanwhile, Ipswich Town himtan Daryl Murphy could be set to lead the Irish attack once again, and he is 11/4 to score his maiden international goal this time out, while in-form Norwich City maestro Wes Hoolahan is 7/2 to dispatch anytime.
Ireland have only ever prevailed from one of three previous European Championship play-offs they have been involved in, but O’Neill’s men will take hope from their solid Group D campaign and look to take a strong result back to Dublin.
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