Saturday 14 December 2019

'Angry' Georgians aim to lift the Irish curse

Guram Kashia
Guram Kashia

Six games and five defeats is all that Georgian defender Guram Kashia has to show for his years of national service when it comes to matches against Ireland.

And while the US-based player says he's "angry" at such a poor return from his battles with Ireland, he feels the history books don't truly reflect what's happened when Georgia and Ireland have clashed on the field of play. And he senses a weakness in the Irish side ahead of tomorrow's game here in Tbilisi.

"We have no injuries, we know that Ireland are missing some of your main players, especially in defence, so this could be an advantage for us," Kashia told The Herald from their team hotel last night.

"We've spoken about the Irish squad, and we might take advantage of the fact that some of your players are injured or suspended. And there is lot more pressure on your team that there is on ours. Ireland are going for qualification and our main focus is the Nations League playoff in March.

"We are in good shape, we showed against Denmark in the last game how well we can play, and we strongly feel that we can make progress in this group and get something against Ireland.

"We have always had injuries against Ireland but this time everyone is here and is fit," added Kashia, whose first encounter with Ireland ended in a 4-0 friendly defeat, in 2013.

"The record says that Ireland are much better than us but it's not really that way, if you look at the games. Sometimes we were the better side, we had better chances and more chances than Ireland," he added.

"It makes me a bit angry, to tell you the truth. We have usually performed well against Ireland but never got the results. Maybe tomorrow we can reward ourselves with a result."

He's also keen to put on a show for the supporters who have been starved of success against Ireland. "It's our last home game and we want to show something to our fans and the Georgian people."

Most of the Georgian squad are with clubs outside of their native country and two of them, Kashia and midfielder Valeri Qazaishvili (who scored Georgia's equaliser in the 1-1 draw the last time the sides met in Tbilisi) have to come a long way as they're with MLS side San Jose Earthquakes.

"We have to do it every month and it's not easy, it's a 20-hour journey, so you sleep on the flights as much as you can. But we want to be here to play for our country," says Kashia.

Georgia have opted not to train at the match stadium this evening and will instead work at their team base in Zestafoni, on the edge of the capital.

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