Football/Soccer

Republic of Ireland's Gavin Bazunu has self-belief despite error against Andorra

Troy Parrott of Republic of Ireland, centre, celebrates after scoring his side's second goal as Republic of Ireland manager Stephen Kenny looks on during the International friendly match between Andorra

REPUBLIC of Ireland’s teenage goalkeeper Gavin Bazunu admits he might have positioned himself better for Andorra’s shock opening goal last Thursday – but says he’ll not change his aggressive approaching to the number one position.

The Manchester City understudy was given the nod to start in the end of season friendly after performing well in previous games against Luxembourg and Qatar back in March.

And with Darren Randolph injured for the Andorra and Hungary friendlies, manager Stephen Kenny decided to stick with the 19-year-old.

Vales headed home in the 52nd minute that sent shockwaves through Irish football before the Irish hit back with four goals – a brace from Troy Parrott and Jason Knight and Daryl Horgan completing the rout.

But Bazunu’s positioning was question as he came off his line for a cross he was doubtful of intercepting. Whether the former Shamrock Rovers netminder would have stopped the header had he stayed on his goal-line is open to debate.

Speaking to reporters via zoom, the three-times capped keeper said: “There are different things you can change.

“If I had a deeper position I might have had more of chance to save a goal but my opinion on it is I am going to be as aggressive as possible to stop any potential cross.

“There was another cross I came out for in the game and I don’t think I would have been able to come for it if I wasn’t as aggressive.

“I am definitely going to learn from it and the other lads will look back on it and see what they can improve on, but there were a lot of positives to take from the game.”

With Randolph and Caoimhim Kelleher out injured, Kenny initially plumped for Mark Travers for the opening World Cup qualifier tie against Serbia, which the Irish lost 3-2.

Kenny dropped the Kildare man for the Luxembourg game a few days later and gave Buzunu his chance.

“I've loved every moment of it,” said Buzunu, who is looking to go out on loan again after a successful spell with Rochdale came to an end.

“With every cap I'm getting, I'm growing a bit in confidence, I'm really feeling comfortable. It's a great group of lads here, so they've all been brilliant welcoming me in and making me feel comfortable.

“I've been happy with the performances."

He added: “The first game against Luxembourg, I was just nervous before the game, but as soon as the whistle went to start the game, it was just like any other game and I just felt comfortable.

“I made sure to stick to my little keys that I have, just to be loud, to be brave, communicate and once I have those things, it just feels like any other game.”

Having finally secured that first elusive win at the 12th time of asking, Kenny can breathe out and perhaps shuffle his pack ahead of tomorrow night’s friendly with Euro 2020 finalists Hungary, who face Portugal in their opener a week later.

Buzunu is known to be extremely vocal and is also weaned on the passing out from the back philosophy at Manchester City where he hopes to one day become the club’s number one.

“I suppose most of it comes from the fact I've been training at a first team level from such a young age,” he said.

“I was in training with the Shamrock Rovers first team from the age of 14 and would have trained with them through until I was 16 so being around the first team dressing room for that period gave me the confidence and understanding of how to speak to your teammates and what's needed from a goalkeeper.

“That’s what players want from a goalkeeper whether you're young or old, they just want to know that there's someone behind them who has the confidence to be able tell them where to be.”

Meanwhile, Republic of Ireland captain Seamus Coleman has been ruled out of tomorrow’s friendly with Hungary due to a hamstring problem.

The Everton defender arrived in the training camp with the injury but had hoped to be fit for the fixture in Budapest.

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Football/Soccer