Matt Doherty, left, scoring for Ireland against Denmark in the Group D qualifying game for UEFA Euro 2020 at the Aviva Stadium last November. INPHO/RYAN BYRNE
UEFA has fixed a new date for the Republic of Ireland’s Euro 2020 play-off against Slovakia. After two postponements, the game will now be played in Bratislava on Oct. 8. Should Stephen Kenny’s team beat Slovakia, they will then face the winners of the Northern Ireland/Bosnia and Herzegovina semifinal, also away from home, on Nov. 12. Northern Ireland travel to Zenica for their semifinal versus Bosnia and Herzegovina, also on Oct. 8.
If the Republic win that play-off final, they will qualify for next summer’s European championships, which have been deferred from summer 2020 as a result of the coronavirus. Dublin would then play host to two of the Republic’s group games at the Aviva Stadium. Stephen Kenny’s first game in charge of the Irish senior team will be in the Nations Cup qualifier away to Bulgaria on Sept 2, with a home game against Finland at the Aviva Stadium on Sept 6.
At this stage we don’t know if the FAI will be allowed sell some tickets for the Finland game. New dates for the Nations League qualifiers in October and November will be confirmed by UEFA next week. Northern Ireland, who don’t yet have a manager to replace Michael O’Neill, are due to begin their Nations Cup campaign away Romania on Sept. 4 and then they play Norway at Windsor Park on Sept. 6.
The final stages of this season’s Champions League will be played at two stadia in Lisbon from Aug. 12-23. The remaining Round of 16 second-leg matches will be played on Aug. 7/8 pending a decision on whether they will take place at the home team’s ground or in Portugal. The draws for the Champions League quarterfinals and semifinals will be made at UEFA headquarters in Nyon, Switzerland, on July 10. Istanbul, which was originally appointed to stage the European Cup final in 2020 final will now host the 2021Champions League Final, whereas the venues for subsequent finals have all agreed to host the finals a year later than originally planned, with St. Petersburg in 2022, Munich in 2023 and Wembley in 2024.
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-- Sean Creedon