Setiembre 22, 2018

People wrote us off - Ireland hero McClean revels in proving doubters wrong

11 Octubre 2017, 03:06 | Cornelio Vivanco


Roy Keane

Although top spot in Group in D was not out of reach for either side before kick-off, Serbia's 1-0 victory over Georgia gained them automatic qualification to Russian Federation 2018 and forced Martin O'Neill's side into the play-offs.

Scotland are eliminated as Slovakia steal into second place in the group.

Hartson, who scored 14 goals in 51 appearances for Wales between 1995 and 2005, told BBC Radio 5 live: "He's been Wales' most successful manager, I think".

Handed a start as manager Martin O'Neill implemented a specific game-plan, Arter was asked to provide energy and impetus in the middle of the field, and he played a significant role in James McClean's victor when he dummied Jeff Hendrick's pull-back to leave the West Brom man with time and space to pull the trigger. We are a tough team to play against, we don't give any teams many chances, we keep clean sheets, I think it was 6 or 7 clean sheets in this qualifying campaign which is remarkable really, and we know we can win games as well.

"I think everyone in Wales, fans and players, would want to see him stay on - 100 percent", he said.

"We just come up a bit short tonight in all honesty, we needed that first goal and we got a bit frustrated and started rushing things after the Republic goal".

Wales have lost for only the second time in 22 qualifiers as the absence of star man Gareth Bale came back to haunt them.

One such coming together saw Wales suffer a major setback as their influential midfielder Joe Allen was forced off after a tackle by David Meyler, with a helping push from McClean.

The hosts dominated the game for large periods but fell behind to McClean's powerful 57th-minute strike.

We shouldn't take Croatia lightly. Some you win and some you lose.

Minutes later, a goal for Croatia in Ukraine made matters even worse for Coleman's men as it meant they would crash out even if they could snatch a draw from Irish hands.

"But it's not my first disappointment and probably won't be my last". O'Neill's team showed great resilience to close out the campaign with back-to-back wins to finish second in the table - just two points behind group winners Serbia.

The only nation to qualify for a World Cup with a population of under one million, Iceland coach Heimir Hallgrimsson had this message for the country's 335,000 inhabitants.

"The success is not an end in itself but a long journey towards a final destination".

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