John Giles is bullish about Ireland's World Cup playoff hopes

Ireland legend does not feel the underdog tag is justified

BY Raf Diallo 19:45 Thursday 12 October 2017, 19:45 12 Oct 2017

Ireland's Robbie Brady and Wes Hoolahan celebrate ©INPHO/James Crombie

A hugely significant win in Cardiff on Monday night but only next month will we know it's complete magnitude as Ireland prepare for a 2018 FIFA World Cup playoff. 

Beating Wales 1-0 in the final qualifier group showdown though put us in that position and as always on a Thursday, we were joined by Leeds and Ireland legend John Giles to get his view. 

John started off by giving his assessment of the ebb and flow of a key point in the game in Cardiff.  

"Defensively we did very well. We were up against it in the first half. I think [Joe] Allen getting the injury he received was a good break for us because he was dominating the middle of the field," he said.

"But as the game wore on, getting five to six minutes before half time, the signs were there that the Irish lads were coming back into it."  

Ireland's Ciaran Clark with Joe Allen of Wales ©INPHO/James Crombie

Feeling that the Irish mentality was right in Wales, he also added that the Boys in Green could have topped that group above Serbia if the same mentality had been used consistently throughout the group. 

But with a tough playoff tie to come against one of Italy, Croatia, Denmark and Switzerland, how can Martin O'Neill improve the team especially at home where Ireland have disappointed for the most part in this World Cup qualifying campaign?

"It's going to be home and away as we know but it's to go into the match with the same attitude that we had going into these two matches. In other words, take the game on its merits. We're as good as any team," he said.

"Don't forget, we talk about Portugal (Switzerland finished second in that group on goal difference), Croatia and these as strong and we'll be the underdog. They've only finished second. If they were that good, they'd be leading the group. They haven't done that and I think we're inclined, most of the time, to over-rate the opposition. I don't believe in that. I don't believe we should be underdogs. If we play as well as we can and get the right players on the pitch, we're as good as any of these teams. Don't over-rate the opposition, you have to respect the opposition but I wouldn't over-rate them."     

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