Welsh fight gives the Moldovans some hope
An Ireland win at home to Moldova next month is needed, and expected, for the Republic to be in with a shout for second place when they face Wales in Cardiff four days later.
But despite their midweek defeat at home to Wales, their sixth loss in eight qualifiers in this campaign, Moldova insist that their decent showing in that loss to the Welsh gives them hope of causing an upset in Dublin.
While Georgia have given their long-suffering fans something to treasure with a three-game unbeaten run, it's a steady diet of misery for Moldova, a side ranked 159th in the world and, of the European teams in the FIFA rankings, only five nations (Kosovo, Malta, Liechtenstein, San Marino and Gibraltar) are lower, so Ireland's next opponents are the sixth-worst team in Europe.
But Moldova put up a real fight at home to Wales on Tuesday night, Chris Coleman's side only getting the breakthrough with 10 minutes to go, and that has emboldened them for their trip to Dublin.
"After we lost 3-0 to Serbia, we had to put up a fight, for the sake of our supporters, and we did that against Wales," says their Italian-based midfielder Artur Ionita (above left). "I want the next game to get us the result that we all want, If we play with the same desire that we showed against Wales, we have a chance.
"The game in Serbia last week was a nightmare for us but we showed, against Wales, that with discipline and heart, we can achieve something."
Moldova have managed just one win in their last 14 games but did manage a 1-1 draw in Tbilisi - like Ireland.