Republic of Ireland still awaiting clarification on Slovakia Euro 2021 play-off showdown

Stephen Kenny is due to take charge of his first Republic of Ireland match next month
Andy Watters

THE Republic of Ireland’s Euro 2021 play-off semi-final against Slovakia on October 8 may yet fall victim to the Covid-19 pandemic, FAI deputy CEO Niall Quinn admitted yesterday.

Stephen’s Kenny’s side are due to meet Slovakia on the same day that Ian Barraclough’s Northern Ireland take on Bosnia and Herzegovina, with the winners of the ties meeting in a play-off final on Thursday, November 12. But with a potential second wave of Coronavirus posing huge problems for international travel and after hearing news that a Waterford United player had tested positive for the virus yesterday morning, Quinn admitted that the FAI are still awaiting clarification on whether the games will go ahead.

“We are still trying to find all that out,” he said at the launch of the Virgin TV coverage of this season’s Champions League and Europa League coverage which begins with Manchester City versus Juventus on Friday night.

“It’s very frustrating. I think Dr Alan Byrne will be the man that will liaise with the correct people in Uefa etcetera and medically here, and we will be guided by them.

“That’s the way it has been from day one and I know a lot of people will have complained: ‘Oh we should have gone back quicker, why aren’t we back playing...’

“This morning tells you this isn’t a simple process and ultimately the medical people will answer those questions.”

The former Republic of Ireland, Man City, Sunderland and Arsenal striker added: “There will be a common sense in the air there to do the right think to keep everybody safe.

“That’s the most important thing and much as we want all Stephen Kenny’s plans to come to fruition, we just have to be vigilant to alter, when or if needed.

“That’s the times we’re in, I’d love to be more confident of games taking place but we’re just in that bind at the moment. Nobody wants to see Stephen and his team playing more than the Association but we’ve got to be careful.”

Before the Slovak play-off, the Republic are scheduled to travel to Bulgaria for a Nations League opener which, if it goes ahead, will former Derry City and Dundalk boss Kenny’s first game in charge.

“Who knows where this is going to go,” warned Quinn.

“We’ve got to remain very vigilant and be ready for whatever comes at us.”

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