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Sunday 4 December 2016

Birthday boy Tskhadadke wants a Georgia victory

Georgia Head Coach Kakhaber Tskhadadze
Georgia Head Coach Kakhaber Tskhadadze

INJURY has forced Georgia to leave one of their key men back home in Tbilisi in between Saturday's stunning win over Scotland and their arrival in Dublin for tonight's clash with Ireland.

Whether the Georgians have left their form behind remains to be seen as they try to shake off the effects of a punishing seven-hour flight to Ireland and gear up for another meeting with a Celtic nation who have ambitions of qualifying for France 2016.

Injuries have certainly done them no favours, with a number of doubts and key midfielder Jano Ananidze definitely out, having impressed in Friday's 1-0 win over Scotland - Sparta Prague man Levan Kenia, who scored for Georgia against Ireland at the age of 17 in Giovanni Trapattoni's first competitive game, is likely to fill in for the classy Ananidze.

Ireland have enjoyed a large dollop of good fortune against the Georgians: from their loss of home advantage for a qualifier in 2008 which was played in the neutral venue of Germany, to the very soft penalty which helped Giovanni Trapattoni's side to an unimpressive 2-1 home win in 2009, and Aiden McGeady's late winner in Tbilisi.

There is one good omen for the Georgians - today is the 47th birthday of their manager, former Manchester City player Kakhaber Tskhadadze. "Of course, a victory," Tskhadadze (pictured) said when asked what he wanted for his birthday. "And we hope our luck will change as well."

The Georgians admit that Friday's duel with Scotland, and their trip west, was energy-sapping. "It was a very difficult game against Scotland, and after the game we flew for seven hours. Saturday was a difficult day but we used yesterday to regain strength," Tskhadadze said ahead of last night's training session.

"The game will be very difficult as Ireland now have a chance to play in the European Championships, they are at home and they will be well-motivated. But it's our aim against teams like Ireland and Scotland to show our skills."

At the beginning of the qualifiers, the then manager Temuri Ketsbaia spoke of his hopes of qualification, only for Georgia to run aground very quickly.

But with a new spirit under their new coach they have already hurt Scotland and tonight, if the mood takes them, they can harm Ireland who may need the rub of the green.

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