Ireland wait on captain ahead of France clash

Ireland wait on captain ahead of France clash
Ireland’s Seamus Coleman during a training session. (Reuters)
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Updated 27 March 2023

Ireland wait on captain ahead of France clash

Ireland wait on captain ahead of France clash
  • Seamus Coleman to be given chance to prove his fitness ahead of Euro 2024 qualifier on Monday

DUBLIN: Republic of Ireland captain Seamus Coleman will be given every chance to prove his fitness ahead of Monday’s Euro 2024 qualifier against France.

The 34-year-old Everton defender has a slight thigh strain and Ireland manager Stephen Kenny is prepared to wait until as late as possible before deciding if his skipper can take part in the Lansdowne Road tie.

“No, he is not ruled out, we will have to see how today goes. We train today,” said Kenny, at a pre-match news conference on Sunday.

“Seamus is a very good player. It’s not so much his experience, it’s that he’s playing well at the moment. Experience is a factor, but his performances for Everton have been very good.

“For footballing reasons, he merits his place in the team because he has been playing very well for Everton and had an injury-free run and been able to train regularly over the last number of months and performed very well for Everton.

“He is the captain, of course, but we’ll have to see on that.”

Republic left wing-back Callum O’Dowda suffered a groin injury during Wednesday’s 3-2 friendly victory over Latvia and while he too has yet to be ruled out, Preston’s Robbie Brady has been drafted in as cover.

Earlier, Morocco stunned Brazil 2-1 on Saturday as the north African side recorded a first ever win over the five-time world champions.

Midfielder Sofiane Boufal, in the 29th minute, gave Morocco the lead before Brazil skipper Casemiro levelled in the 67th minute in Tangiers.

But Abdelhamid Sabiri struck the winner in the 79th minute as Morocco showed that becoming the first Arab or African nation to reach the World Cup semifinals last year was no fluke.

Only 10 of the 23-man squad that took Brazil to a disappointing quarter-final exit at the World Cup made the trip to Morocco for the game.

The injured Neymar was again missing with his number 10 shirt passing to Real Madrid youngster Rodrygo.

Brazil also had a new manager in the dugout with interim coach Ramon Menezes having replaced Tite who stepped down after the World Cup quarter-final exit at the hands of Croatia.

The Brazilian Football Confederation hopes to be able to announce the name of its new coach before the start of qualifying for the 2026 World Cup in September.

According to Brazilian media, the federation’s first choice is Carlo Ancelotti, currently in charge of Real Madrid.

However, he is not expected to make a decision on his future before the end of the European season.

Before kick-off at the Ibn Batouta stadium on Saturday, both teams paid tribute to Pele, who died last December at the age of 82.

Until Saturday, Morocco had suffered defeats in their only two other meetings with Brazil — 2-0 in a 1997 friendly and 3-0 in the group stage of the 1998 World Cup in France.