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Monday 5 December 2016

Martin O'Neill: Qualifying race is still on

Martin O'Neill
Martin O'Neill

MARTIN O'Neill remains convinced that Ireland can yet make it to the Euro 2016 in France despite two more dropped points at the Aviva against Scotland.

"First things first, I think we have to look at September for a start. We have to win those games, we have to win in Gibraltar and we have to come back here a few days later and win against Georgia," he said.

"If we could win those games, we take some confidence going into Germany and Germany here, if we can get a similar type of atmosphere as we did here today and for a good stretch of the Poland game, then who knows."

Asked whether he thought that Ireland fans were losing belief in his team, O'Neill was happy to place his trust in the hope that fate will throw him a bone.

"I think that people who have watched football before, particularly qualifying groups, know that some things can change around. Scotland still have to play Poland and Germany and we are two points behind them."

O'Neill wants more from his players in the way of creativity in a bid to generate more goals which do not appear to be available from Ireland's front-runners.

"We have to try and become more creative. We have to have midfield players trying to get goals. This is it. Players have played a lot of international matches and we don't score a lot of goals. We don't score them.

"It's unfortunately there in black and white but we have to try and try and try to improve our chance ratio and not just have a final 15 minute burst where you put absolutely everything in the area."

"You have to try and be more creative. I thought in periods when we had possession we did fine. We kept it, it opened up and I thought that Scotland were on the back foot for probably all of the first half."

"But what a lift they got just after half-time when they've scored a goal that they haven't really worked for and of course that knocks you, particularly with the pressure on you to win," said O'Neill (above).

"I know I keep saying this to you, but we were totally dominant in the first half of the game. I might not use the word totally, but we were certainly well in control of the match and Scotland didn't cause us any problems whatsoever.

"But our set-pieces, if we have not got phenomenal creativity in the side then we have to utilise every aspect of the game in an attempt to get something out of it."

While Robbie Brady's set-piece delivery was a highlight of the game, Séamus Coleman's crossing attempts were awful, continuing a run of poor international performances.

"Séamus, a few times, got into some really great positions and you would have expected better and he'd have expected better from himself," said the Ireland boss.

"But overall he's still a class player and if we could get that delivery in, then we give ourselves a better chance."

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