The path to UEFA EURO2020 play-offs became a lot clearer for the Republic of Ireland following the Play-Off Draw in Nyon, Switzerland on Friday.
Mick McCarthy’s team will have to travel away to take on Slovakia in a Play-Off Semi-Final on March 26, 2020 with that game being decided on the night. The winner will then be away to either Bosnia and Herzegovina or Northern Ireland on March 31, 2020.
With Aviva Stadium set to host four games as part of next summer’s main event, McCarthy is fully aware of the supporters’ hopes of qualifying for a tournament on home soil.
“Somebody said to me the other day: “You know, Mick, the country’s right behind you, you’ve got to do it for the country”. I thought, “Yes, I know I have”,” stated McCarthy.
“Nothing extra could make me want to win a game of football, to be quite honest. That’s for me personally. But for the nation, for Ireland, it does mean a lot more, of course.”
Ireland have met Slovakia four times – sharing three draws and claiming one win – but McCarthy admitted that there is plenty of time to get his homework done before they face off again in the Play-Off Semi-Final.
“I haven’t had much time to assess it as yet. It’ll be a difficult game, no doubt. They were in Wales’ group, so I’m sure we’ll be able to get some intel, [some] info on them. We can get it anyway, from our analyst,” said McCarthy.
“[It will be a] tough game, people have been saying to me: “You’ll be playing one of the poorer sides, one of the third teams in the group.” Yeah, I said: “Exactly like us, that’s what we were”.
“So I think it’s a level playing field, to be quite honest. With the set-up they’ve got, they’ve got the home tie.”
Information regarding tickets for the Euro2020 play-offs and confirmation of venues will be announced in due course.