WITH THE DISAPPOINTMENT of Euro 2012 still fresh in our minds, Ireland begin their challenge for a place at the 2014 World Cup in a far-off land this evening.
Having travelled over 3,000 miles to Astana, the Boys in Green take on Kazakhstan (KO 5pm Irish time) – a team ranked 142nd in the world by FIFA – before next month’s meeting with Germany at Lansdowne Road.
Due to the manner in which they suffered three defeats in Poland and the Italian’s insistence on retaining a rigid 4-4-2, the mood among many fans is as downbeat as it has been for some time going into this World Cup qualifying campaign.
A combination of retirements, injuries and suspensions see five changes in personnel from the team which went down 2-0 to Italy in their final Group C fixture back in June and while James McCarthy’s inclusion for a first senior competitive start is promising, the defence looks severely weakened by Richard Dunne’s absence and the decision to pick Simon Cox ahead of James McClean on the wing is slightly baffling.
So, in their first of ten qualifiers to be played over the next 13 months, what result do you expect from today’s match?