Algarve Cup: Ireland struggle ahead of Euro 2013 fixtures
While Ireland’s rugby side enjoy increasingly impressive fortunes in the Six Nations, our footballing side (or soccer, if you’re so inclined) have failed to secure a single victory in the Algarve Cup invitational.
Ireland tonight face host nation Portugal in the impressive Éstadio de Algarve, presumably the most formidable side in the Group. Even with a win, however, Ireland will be unable progress through to the final stages of the tournament, although they could take the runner-up place in their Group.
With the remaining UEFA Euro 2013 qualifiers taking place from April onwards – with fixtures against Scotland, Wales, France and Israel concluding in September – we can only hope the Algarve experience doesn’t foreshadow the squad’s form there.
In Portugal, Sue Ronan, made a number of changes for the Welsh tie including bringing Arsenal legend, Emma Byrne, back into the starting line-up following an injury, and handing the veteran goalkeeper the captain’s armband for the first time.
Ronan has taken full advantage of the Algarve Cup to explore the options available to her for the rest of the Euro 2013 qualifiers and has had the opportunity to run the rule over most of the player in her squad already. Following the Hungary loss, she noted:
Most of the girls would be lacking match sharpness as the English and American leagues are only in pre-season.
I think that was certainly a factor is the team taking so long to get going. On the play, we probably did enough to win the game but it just didn’t work out on the day.
The aim from this Algarve Cup is to build for our next European qualifier away to Scotland on April 5th. We’ll do lots of work on the training ground and have another three games, so it will be a very worthwhile week.
Having already secured Euro 2013 wins over Israel and Wales, and a Group ranking there of second, Ireland now face both home and away games against Scotland as well as second legs which include several home games. If we discount the team’s performance in the Algarve Cup thus far, and focus instead on the Euro 2013 fixtures, the future is bright. Fingers crossed!
Algarve Cup 2012: Ireland fixtures
29 Feb 2012: Hungary 1-0 Ireland
2 Mar 2012: Wales 0-0 Ireland
5 Mar 2012: Ireland v Portugal (KO 5:15pm)
Ireland then face the nation in another group (to be confirmed) which finishes in the corresponding position of the four teams.