The Republic of Ireland’s hopes of a Euro 2024 spot are almost certainly over.
Despite their fading chances, defender Dara O’Shea believes Stephen Kenny’s side has the potential to upset the Netherlands in their final qualifier on Saturday. However, this could be Kenny’s last competitive match as his contract is set to expire soon.
The Republic of Ireland has had a tough campaign, losing five out of seven qualifiers. Their only wins came against minnows Gibraltar. The team suffered defeats at home and away against France and Greece respectively, along with a loss against the Dutch in Dublin back in September.
Furthermore, their hopes for a play-off based on UEFA’s complex Nations League rankings now rely on highly unlikely results from other Euro 2024 groups.
O’Shea remains optimistic despite the circumstances: “I think we can [win], there is no reason why we can’t.” He emphasizes that even though they cannot qualify anymore, it is an international game against a strong opponent like the Netherlands – an opportunity for the team to do something special as a group.
Brighton striker Evan Ferguson, one of the emerging stars in the Republic squad, faces uncertainties due to injury ahead of the final qualifier. Other fitness concerns include Luton Town winger Chiedozie Ogbene and midfielders Will Smallbone and Jamie McGrath.
Kenny’s contract will come to an end after Tuesday’s home friendly against New Zealand. While he refrains from discussing his future before Saturday’s game, it remains unclear if he will continue leading the team moving forward.