Ronald Koeman pulls no punches as he labels Ireland squad "inferior"
Tell us what you really think why don't you...
The Republic of Ireland have pulled results out of the fire against the Netherlands in the past. Yet, if Ronald Koeman's pre-match comments are anything to go by ahead of tonight's encounter, Ireland's visitors are not very fearful of the challenge that they will face at Lansdowne Road.
Stephen Kenny's side head into the game knowing that anything other than a win would surely end their hopes of a top-three finish in the qualification group, leaving their play-off faith up to chance and relying on a host of other group results to go their way.
Confident Koeman holds no punches as he labels Kenny's Irish squad "inferior."
The Dutch meanwhile arrive in Dublin sitting comfortably in second place, having dispatched third-placed Greece with ease in Amsterdam on Thursday evening.
That result has left head coach Ronald Koeman in a rather confident mood, with the former Everton boss telling reporters that Ireland are no longer the side of old who could match the Dutch skill and creativity with their own gumption and guile.
Koeman confident ahead of meeting with "inferior" Irish:
"It's not good to compare teams of Holland or Ireland in the '80s or the '90s," Koeman began.
"At that time, the Irish were really strong with a great public behind the team and we had big moments against them, in '88 the lucky goal to win that game and in the '90s in Italy, it was a draw.
"But at that time, they were really strong with good strikers - Aldridge, Stapleton, I think - and the coach was famous, Jack Charlton.
'That has changed, of course."
Remarking on Stephen Kenny's iteration of Ireland, the former Barcelona and Ajax centre-half gave a more than honest assessment, saying;
"They have now more younger players - they need time - they don't have a lot, I heard, of Irish players playing in the Premier League, and that makes it really difficult for the coach.
Koeman did briefly halt in his critiquing of his side's opponents to make reference to his visit to Donegal back in 2017 when he visited an injured Seamus Coleman in Killybegs during his time as Everton boss.
"I will give him a big hug (if I see him). A great player, a great man," the Netherlands manager added.
As to how he sees the game itself panning out, Koeman was once again bullish in his assertion that his Dutch side would dominate an "inferior" Ireland.
"We will have a lot of ball possession. The pace of the ball is more important, that we can find the spaces and be very aggressive.
"They play with great enthusiasm despite having inferior players. That doesn't mean it's easier. The intensity is also important. Then the quality must be decisive..."
"We always look everywhere where we get opportunities and where we can score. France scored a good goal from distance. That also worked earlier this week. That is also what we are going for now."
In a final parting shot, when asked what he expects from this Irish side come 7.45 pm on Sunday night, Koeman somewhat disparagingly quipped, "They will fight."
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