Republic of Ireland and Wales in final World Cup group game shootout
After trailing them for much of the Qualifying campaign, Wales have now overtaken the Republic of Ireland and are in pole position for the play-offs.
A dire September for Martin O’Neill’s squad culminated in a loss to Serbia last night in Dublin. It was the first competitive defeat of his era at the Aviva Stadium.
At the same time, Wales had just beaten Moldova 2-0 to jump ahead of the Republic into second place. That nudges Chris Coleman’s side one point in front of the Irish going into the final two group games next month.
It will potentially put both nations on a collision course in Cardiff on Monday 9 October.
Should both sides see victory in their games beforehand – against Georgia and Moldova, respectively – there will be a winner-takes-all clash at the Cardiff City Stadium.
And even that may not be enough for the Republic now after taking just one point from the Georgia and Serbia fixtures.
FIFA’s qualifying system means that the second-placed team with the lowest points total from the nine groups will miss out on a play-off spot.
With the Irish currently sitting on just 13 points, two wins will bring them to 19. And that may still be insufficient depending on results elsewhere.
Wales, though, should have no major issues should they bag six points from their games.
It’s been a rousing end to the campaign for Chris Coleman’s squad. It had looked bleak for so long, but now there is light at the end of the tunnel.
However, for Martin O’Neill and the Republic, September 2017 will live long in the memory for the wrong reasons.
Potential redemption remains for the Irish but a lot of things will need to go their way between now and the second week of October.
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