Draw jpg

It’s Denmark for Republic, Switzerland for North

Ireland manager Martin O’Neill speaks to RTE after the draw. INPHO/ANDY MUELLER


By Irish Echo Staff

Denmark stand between the Republic of Ireland’s soccer team and a trip to World Cup 2018 next summer in Russia.

The sides were drawn Tuesday to play two legs of a playoff encounter next month. The Irish will travel to Copenhagen for the first game on Saturday, Nov. 11, and the teams will return for the second at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin on the following Tuesday.

Northern Ireland must play Switzerland, the topped ranked of the eight teams going into yesterday’s draw.

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In the other playoffs for the final European places in next year’s tournament, Italy were drawn against Sweden and Croatia must play Greece.

The Republic’s manager Martin O’Neill said: "I know the Denmark manager [Age Hareide], we used to play together. It will be an interesting confrontation.

"Now let's take our chance. I'm delighted to be drawn away from home first, so we'll try to get some sort of advantage, or negate their advantage, before we get to Dublin,” he said.

"That could have a big impact on proceedings, but we have to be going to Dublin with something still to play for. If you ask most coaches, you want the second game at home. But with the rules like extra time, it gives the away team that chance to score in 120 minutes.

"We have momentum and that's important,” O’Neill added. “We won the last two games to get here. I'm now concerned with the next couple of weeks and making sure my players don't get injuries at club level."

Northern Ireland boss Michael O’Neill said: "It was going to be tough whoever we got but we're capable of going through to the finals."

The former manager of Shamrock Rovers in Dublin added: "Switzerland had a good campaign, but we have a big opportunity to get to Russia."