Here’s everything you need to know ahead of Wednesday’s 2022 Fifa World Cup qualifier between the Republic of Ireland and Serbia.
The Republic of Ireland begin their World Cup qualification campaign on Wednesday evening against Serbia in Belgrade. Stephen Kenny will be hoping to pick up his first win as Ireland manager after a challenging first year in the job. Here is everything you need to know about the match, including team news and TV channel details.
Who are Ireland playing against?
Ireland are taking on Serbia who are ranked 30th in the Fifa world rankings.
The two nations were in the same qualification group for the 2018 World Cup. Ireland recorded a 2-2 draw away to Serbia in the opening fixture, before the Serbs secured a 1-0 win at the Aviva Stadium in September 2017.
Squad announced for FIFA 2022 World Cup qualifiers
29-player squad named for the three matches with first senior call-up for Gavin Bazunu 👏
— FAIreland ⚽️🇮🇪 (@FAIreland) March 18, 2021
Serbia qualified automatically for the World Cup in Russia, where they failed to get out of their group. Ireland, meanwhile, crashed out in the playoffs after Denmark won 5-1 in Dublin.
Kenny will be hoping for a more positive result on Wednesday as Ireland attempt to reach the Qatar World Cup.
The game will kick-off at 7:45 pm Irish time.
What is at stake?
Both teams are hoping to start their World Cup qualification campaign with a strong result.
Portugal are the top seeds in Group A. The European champions are expected to top the standings by the time the group comes to a conclusion in November.
That leaves Serbia, Ireland, Azerbaijan and Luxembourg fighting it out for a potential play-off place. In reality, however, it will arguably be between Ireland and Serbia for a play-off spot, so Kenny’s side must not lose on Wednesday night.
A point would represent a good result ahead of a return game in September at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin.
If Kenny’s team can win the match, it would go some distance towards cementing second place in the group.
What is Ireland’s form going into the game against Serbia?
Ireland are on a dreadful run of form. The national team haven’t won a game since November 2019 – when they beat New Zealand 3-1 in a friendly in Dublin.
Since Kenny took charge of the team, Ireland have played eight games and have lost five and drawn the other three. They have failed to score in seven of those matches and haven’t found the net in over 11 hours of football.
Before 2020, the last time Ireland went an entire calendar year without scoring was way back in 1971. There’s no sugarcoating it – Ireland are on a terrible run of form.
How can I watch the Serbia-Ireland match on TV?
The Serbia v Ireland match will be shown live on terrestrial television in Ireland.
If you’re living outside of Ireland, or you would prefer to watch it on Sky Sports, you can watch the match on Sky Sports Football. Their coverage also begins at 7 pm.
Virgin Media will show highlights of the game at 10 pm on Virgin Media 2.
Who is in the Ireland squad?
Kenny named a 29-man squad for Ireland’s games this month. The former Dundalk boss will be without key players such as John Egan and Darren Randolph, who are injured, while David McGoldrick has decided to retire from international duty.
Since this squad was announced, Caoimhin Kelleher, Conor Hourihane, Kevin Long and Callum O’Dowda have all been ruled out through injury.
Goalkeepers: Gavin Bazunu (Rochdale, on loan from Manchester City), Mark Travers (AFC Bournemouth), Kieran O’Hara (Burton Albion).
Defenders: Seamus Coleman (Everton), Matt Doherty (Tottenham Hotspur), Shane Duffy (Celtic, on loan from Brighton and Hove Albion), Enda Stevens (Sheffield United), Ciaran Clark (Newcastle United), Dara O’Shea (West Bromwich Albion), Ryan Manning (Swansea City), Cyrus Christie (Nottingham Forest).
Midfielders: Alan Browne (Preston North End), Jeff Hendrick (Newcastle United), Jayson Molumby (Preston North End, on loan from Brighton and Hove Albion), Jason Knight (Derby County), Josh Cullen (Anderlecht).
Wingers: Robbie Brady (Burnley), James McClean (Stoke City), Daryl Horgan (Wycombe Wanderers), Ronan Curtis (Portsmouth).
Strikers: Callum Robinson (West Bromwich Albion), Aaron Connolly (Brighton and Hove Albion), Shane Long (AFC Bournemouth, on loan from Southampton), James Collins (Luton Town), Troy Parrott (Ipswich Town, on loan from Tottenham Hotspur)
What is Ireland’s starting XI?
Stephen Kenny named his team an hour before kick-off in Belgrade.
Travers, Coleman, Clark, Stevens, O’Shea, Doherty, Browne, Molumby, Cullen, Connolly, Robinson.