Serbia v Republic of Ireland live stream, Sky Sports, Wednesday 24th March, 7:45pm GMT
The Republic of Ireland travel to Serbia for their opening World Cup 2022 qualifier on Wednesday.
Ireland will be hoping to end a two-decade absence from the world’s biggest stage, with their last appearance at the finals having come back in 2002. Joining them in Group A, as well as Serbia, are Portugal, Azerbaijan and Luxembourg.
Following their trip to Belgrade, Stephen Kenny’s Boys In Green face Luxembourg in Dublin. They then head to Hungary for a friendly with Qatar, the World Cup hosts having been invited by UEFA to prepare for the tournaments with games against the five Group A sides, all set to take place at neutral venues in Europe.
Serbia have qualified for three of the last four World Cups (in 2006 as Serbia and Montenegro) but have gone out in the group stage on each occasion. The Eagles missed out on a spot at Euro 2020, taking place this summer, after their play-off defeat to Scotland on penalties in November, so will no doubt be keen to make a convincing start to this campaign. Indeed, manager Dragan Stojkovic has gone so far as to say he “can’t accept that Ireland can play better than us”.
Kenny has already lost four players from his original 29-man squad due to injury. Liverpool goalkeeper Caoimhin Kelleher still hasn’t recovered from an abdominal injury – Bournemouth’s Mark Travers is likely to make his competitive international debut – while Burnley defender Kevin Long, Bristol City winger Callum O’Dowda, and midfielder Conor Hourihane – on loan at Swansea from Aston Villa – are also out of contention. Blackburn centre-back Darragh Lenihan and West Ham midfielder Conor Coventry have both been drafted in.
Among the players to look out for in the Serbia ranks are captain Dusan Tadic – formerly of Southampton and now at Ajax – Fulham’s Aleksandar Mitrovic and fellow striker Luka Jovic, on loan at Eintracht Frankfurt from Real Madrid.
Kick-off is at 7:45pm GMT and the game is being shown on Sky Sports Football in the UK.
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