McCarthy happy Republic have another chance despite loss to Switzerland
Republic of Ireland boss Mick McCarthy was refusing to be downhearted as he contemplated a winner-takes-all clash with Denmark with a trip to the Euro 2020 finals at stake.
Ireland would have already booked their ticket had they won in Switzerland on Tuesday night, but a 2-0 defeat by the side currently sitting in 11th place in the FIFA rankings left them needing to take three points from the Danes in Dublin next month to qualify automatically.
McCarthy, who will be without skipper Seamus Coleman for the Group D decider following his dismissal for two bookable offences at the Stade de Geneva, said: “It doesn’t worry me because it is winner takes all in that game and I keep saying I would settle for that.
“We would like more shots on target, we would like more goals. We got ourselves into this position by not conceding and being pretty tough at that and then nicking a goal if we have to. And we are still in a position to qualify, so we are happy with that.”
Ireland succumbed to the Swiss after a poor first-half display allowed Haris Seferovic to give the home side a 16th-minute lead, but it took the Swiss until the final kick of the game to wrap up the win when defender Shane Duffy could only help substitute Edimilson Fernandes’ shot into his own net.
In the meantime, Coleman had seen red after blocking Breel Embolo’s shot with his arm, only for keeper Darren Randolph to save the resulting penalty.
McCarthy started with a back three in a bid to keep the Swiss at bay, but repeatedly tinkered with formation and personnel, particularly during the opening 45 minutes.
He said: “If that was the reason we conceded a goal and played badly, I’ll take the rap for that because I changed it to try and get two strikers on, which I believe most people thought was quite promising and positive.
“I don’t think that system caused us to have an inability to pass the ball to one another, so I’m not taking the rap for that. The fact they are a very good side is the biggest contributing factor.”
Nineteen-year-old Aaron Connolly was the beneficiary of the system change as he made his first senior start in difficult circumstances and was replaced with 20 minutes remaining.
McCarthy said: “He was playing against a team that had the ball most of the time, and difficult for him as we didn’t really give him any supply or real service in the first half.
“But he’ll be better for it, he’ll learn from it. Kevin Kilbane made his debut in Iceland and I took him off at half-time, and he made 120 appearances or so. He’s got nothing to worry about.”
Switzerland boss Vladimir Petkovic knows his team will qualify if they beat Georgia at home and Gibraltar away next month as a result of their win over Ireland.
He said: “We created many chances and unfortunately we didn’t take full advantage of them. We controlled the game against a very good opponent.
“We have two very important games ahead of us. I am very happy with the team. We are very satisfied, and suffered no injuries.”