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Stephen Kenny refusing to label Luxembourg game "must-win"

Stephen Kenny refusing to label Luxembourg game
© Reuters
Ireland have not won a competitive match since June 2019.

Stephen Kenny is refusing to categorise the Republic of Ireland’s World Cup qualifier against Luxembourg as a “must-win” game.

Ireland head into the Group A showdown at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday evening as hot favourites despite having not won a competitive game since June 2019, when they beat minnows Gibraltar 2-0.

However Kenny, who is still awaiting the first victory of his reign after nine attempts – Ireland lost their opener 3-2 in Serbia on Wednesday night – is not piling any added pressure on to his players.

Asked if the game was a must-win affair, he said after a lengthy pause: “Well, it depends on your grasp of mathematics, but anything is possible.

“It’s important that we win the game. We want to win the game. Must-win – what is that? Is it an adjective? What does must-win mean?

“We want to do well and we’re going to be very determined to try and win the game, that is our objective. The players’ attitude is exceptional.

“We played very well the other day and were disappointed to lose. We want to win the game against Luxembourg and we will try everything we can.”

Defender Dara O’Shea, however, was less circumspect when asked a similar question.

The 22-year-old said: “The result is the only thing that matters. They’re World Cup qualifiers, you’ve got to win games. We’re not winning games, it’s as simple as that.

“It comes at a good time after Wednesday. It’s a great time to put things right and put three points on the board.”

Kenny, who will be without Brighton striker Aaron Connolly after he returned from Belgrade with a foot injury, has been happy with some of the performances under his charge, but has admitted he now wants more than mere plaudits.

He said: “I’m disappointed as a manager that we have not won one of the games, but overall, our performances in the Euros in Slovakia or World Cup qualifier in Serbia have been two exceptional performances against good teams and away from home.

“We played very, very well and completely differently than Irish teams would have done in the last decade away from home against good nations. We controlled a lot of the games in both cases.

“What we have to try and do is make them winning performances. I don’t plaudits for losing games.”

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