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Monday 22 April 2019

Georgia look for rare old time in Dublin

BOSS: Vladimir Weiss. Photo: Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile
BOSS: Vladimir Weiss. Photo: Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile

A collection of sportsmen who have no stars among their number but a very strong team spirit and a will to do well on the world stage, to show others what they are made of.

Sounds like the Republic of Ireland national team at various stages of our history but the Georgia camp claim that's what they have in their baggage as they come to Dublin.

And despite a loss at home to Switzerland in the first game of the Euro 2020 qualifiers, Georgia midfielder Nika Kvekveskiri says the side can finally get the result they deserve against Ireland, a win, after so many near misses.

"It's possible for us to get a result here, why not? We may have to fight but we will do that, we have already lost points to Switzerland so we have plans for the game. But I'm not going to tell you what they are," laughs Kvekveskiri speaking from the squad's Dublin base last night

"The statistics have gone against us. If you look at highlights from the Ireland games we look good, but the only thing that matters is the result. The history books don't show a good performance, only the result of the match. We had good displays against Ireland, some good possession, but no wins and we need to change."

When the Georgians first played Ireland, in the Euro 2004 qualifiers, they had names which stood out, the likes of Kaladze, Arveladze, Kinkladze and Ketsbaia.

Now, the names of the players and their clubs are obscure, the Georgian squad employed with teams from Cyprus to Russia, Denmark to Kazakhstan, but it's the sum of the parts that counts, says Kvekveskiri, who plays his club football with FC Tobol in Kazakhstan.

"We have had better individual players in the past with Georgia but this team is the best group we have had, we have a really good generation coming in now, players who really believe in doing something for Georgian football.

"We used to have players in the English Premier League, in Serie A, at big clubs. We know we don't have that now, we know were we are, what clubs we play for but this squad is like a family which is working together to get a result."

Boosted by success in the Nations League, the Georgians come to Dublin with hope, and wariness.

"We feel comfortable on the ball but Ireland can score from nothing. They have quality players who can harm us, especially from set pieces and I am not bothered by the fact that they have scored just one goal in five games, that's history and tonight is a new game," he says.

"They will want to do well in front of their supporters, I know they have a new manager who has his first home game against us, and I know that the atmosphere in the Aviva Stadium is incredible, your fans will support your team.

"We will have maybe 150 or 200 of our fans there but for a small country like Georgia that's ok, we will want to give them a reason to be proud.

"We have played Ireland nine times and just one draw is not a good result from that. But we are feeling good about this game, we know we have quality but we need to be more aggressive, we need to concentrate more. We know from playing them, and seeing their other matches, that Ireland are very strong at set pieces so we have to be ready for that.

"So I think we are ready to beat Ireland for the first time, if luck can be on our side. We have waited a long time so I hope this is our time to get the first win."

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