In the debate regarding Video Assisted Referees (VAR), the Republic of Ireland would definitely support the argument to implement the VAR.
After all, they were betrayed by the lack of video refereeing in the 2010 World Cup qualifiers. Most Irish fans will easily recall Thierry Henry’s controversial hand-ball leading up to France’s eventual winner with anguish. They missed out on a ticket to South Africa by that hand-ball, which would have been their fourth World Cup after Italy 1990, USA 1994 and Korea/Japan 2002. That fourth World Cup evaded them in 2014 too as they fell six points short of the play-off, but they stand a better chance now.
Or at least they did before this international break. With four games to go, Ireland were second in the group, tied on 12 points with Serbia but separated by goal difference. A group with no strong team always boded well for the Irish, and they had done well so far with three wins and three draws. Qualification for the World Cup is in its final stages though, with just two games left in October wrapping up the group stages and deciding who goes on to Russia directly and who has to go to the dreaded play-offs. Safer bets than that can be found in the form of Matched bets offered through bigfreebet.com.
But as Conor McGregor would tell you, there is no point starting well if you collapse like a pack of cards in the final rounds. A draw to eliminated Georgia away and a home loss to group leaders Serbia may have been the least-desired combination of results. In a tricky away match, Ireland certainly made it difficult for themselves despite their unbeaten record against the Georgians, not taking their chances, and sat far too deep. With Serbia winning 3-0 vs Moldova in the same round, it was not the ideal result.
The Serbia result could have greater ramifications though, for a win would have put them top of the group and in control of direct qualification. But a 1-0 loss courtesy of a Kolarov banger means Ireland are now third, five behind Serbia, all but ending chances of direct qualification. But they are also one point behind Wales in second, meaning that the rosy outlook before this international break has been replaced by a more grim one. Making the play-offs is still possible, but Ireland missed their chance to avoid the pressure.
The final set of games sees them host Moldova and travel to Wales. Given Moldova are last and win-less, three points is a necessity. As long as Wales stay within two points of Ireland (there is a four goal difference between the two teams), the last game represents Ireland’s last shot at making the play-off with a win. Martin O’Neill will have to throw caution to the wind at this point in order to achieve his country’s dreams. The country could certainly do with qualification after that infamous Henry heartbreak. No one remembers if it’s direct qualification or via the play-offs. October is as crunch as it gets- the Irish will be nervously waiting in Cardiff in the final game.