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Thread: 2022 Nations League - what next for Ireland?

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    2022 Nations League - what next for Ireland?

    Now that we have finished the World Cup qualifiers, we can turn to the next important competitive competition the Nations League next Summer, and maybe assess possible opponents and where they currently stand vis a vis what would be a good draw, what to expect etc..

    The draw for the groups will be made on December 16th, with Ireland in Pot 3 of Nations League Path B

    The pots are as follow

    B1 - Ukraine, Sweden, Bosnia, Iceland

    B2 - Finland, Norway, Scotland, Russia

    B3 - Isreal, Serbia, Romania, Ireland

    B4 - Slovenia, Montenegro, Albania, Armenia


    So, what would be the optimal draw? What would be the worst draw? Where would we like to travel to, where would be a disaster?

    My own optimal draw would probably be..

    Iceland - Norway - Ireland - Armenia

    Where teams finished in these qualifiers

    Ukraine - 3rd in group behind France and Finland.. just 9 points garnered from 7 games so far, only one win
    Bosnia - 4th in the same group as Ukaine.. 7 points, also just one win in 7
    Sweden - 2nd behind Spain, beat Spain at home.. blew it with losses to Greece and Georgia
    Iceland - 5th in their group, 2 wins home and away to Lichtenstein, a shadow of the team that lit up France 16

    Best case scenario - Iceland
    Worst case - Sweden

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    Seasoned Pro NeverFeltBetter's Avatar
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    Tough to know, but based on World Cup qualifying form I'd say I'd love to get Iceland (have had a poor campaign by recent standards), Finland (somewhat similar, likely to finish with 11/12 points from possible 24) and I suppose then a toss-up between Armenia (I think the weakest but the away trip is lengthy) and Slovenia.

    Worst case would probably be Sweden ( were one goal away from putting Spain into the play-offs), Scotland (their best generation in years, though Norway not too far behind) and Montenegro (seem more consistent than Albania, with an even number of wins, draws and losses up to tonight while Albania could end winning five and losing five).
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    Biased against YOUR club pineapple stu's Avatar
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    I suppose the question is what do we want from the campaign?

    It's a Euros cycle - but we were relegated last time and still made the Euro playoffs. OK, with 32 in the top two divisions, it'll be a bit harder, but I don't think we need to have that as our main focus. (I presume the Euro playoffs are still a thing)

    Are we better getting a mix of standards ahead of prep for Euro qualification? Much and all as any draw is going to be a step up from Qatar/Luxembourg/Azerbaijan, I don't think we should be looking to duck behind the weakest possible group. I think Sweden are the best team there by a distance; Norway are good if they have Haaland/Oedegaard. Maybe one of those but not both, and then anyone from pot 4?

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    Pot 2 Opponents

    Finland - 2nd in the group behind France, with only one win outside of the two games against Kazakhstan. Thought we did well enough against them last Nations League

    Norway - 3rd in group, level with Turkey, probably won't make it to the play offs as their last game is away to Holland, a team on the upward cycle

    Scotland - 2nd in their group, heading for the play offs, again a team on the up

    Russia - 2nd in group, blew qualification with an own goal 10 minutes from time.. it's Russia, who knows what you'll get.. brilliance or dross

    Best case scenario - Russia

    Worst case scenario - Russia

    But apart from Russia's inconsistency.. would probably want Finland from this pot

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    Seasoned Pro passinginterest's Avatar
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    Yeah, it's hard to know what to want. A group that's winnable but that can't be written off as only beating poor teams if we did win it. Sweden would be a really tough test as would Scotland in the second group. Genuinely competitive games against the type of teams we need to compete with to qualify for things. I think I'd probably prefer the slightly easier looking group though and plump for something like Iceland, Finland, Solvenia.

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    Pot 4 opponents

    Slovenia - 4th in their group, level with Slovakia, four wins but those mainly against Cyprus and Malta

    Montenegro - 4th in their group, three wins, but those against the likes of Latvia and Gibralter

    Albania - 3rd in Englands group, could be a tricky opponent, but then you see England beat them by five and it could have been 10

    Armenia - 4th in their group, ahead of Iceland even.

    Best case - Armenia/Montenegro

    Worst case - Albania

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    Quote Originally Posted by pineapple stu View Post
    I suppose the question is what do we want from the campaign?

    It's a Euros cycle - but we were relegated last time and still made the Euro playoffs. OK, with 32 in the top two divisions, it'll be a bit harder, but I don't think we need to have that as our main focus. (I presume the Euro playoffs are still a thing)

    Are we better getting a mix of standards ahead of prep for Euro qualification? Much and all as any draw is going to be a step up from Qatar/Luxembourg/Azerbaijan, I don't think we should be looking to duck behind the weakest possible group. I think Sweden are the best team there by a distance; Norway are good if they have Haaland/Oedegaard. Maybe one of those but not both, and then anyone from pot 4?
    I think what we want from the campaign should be:

    1. Absolutely get into the top 3.. we cannot drop down to C level.

    2. Win the group.. would love to see us meeting the Englands, Frances, Germanys, Italys etc in 2024

    3. Absolutely solidify 90% of the squad for the upcoming Euro qualifiers afterwards (always allowing for some dark horse to emerge)

    4. Get the whole nation behind the team, fill stadiums, and get football rocking again (we still don't even have a main sponsor!!!)

    5. Finish top 2 in the group and almost guarentee a play off spot, just in case we don't qualify automatically

    5. Bring on the current youngsters so that we're not only going to qualify for Germany in 24, but look good enough for USA in 26 and wherever the Euro's are in 28

    I'm right behind SK now.. but we're now in serious territory.. he's got his transition.. qualification matters now

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    Capped Player SkStu's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pineapple stu View Post
    I suppose the question is what do we want from the campaign?

    It's a Euros cycle - but we were relegated last time and still made the Euro playoffs. OK, with 32 in the top two divisions, it'll be a bit harder, but I don't think we need to have that as our main focus. (I presume the Euro playoffs are still a thing)

    Are we better getting a mix of standards ahead of prep for Euro qualification? Much and all as any draw is going to be a step up from Qatar/Luxembourg/Azerbaijan, I don't think we should be looking to duck behind the weakest possible group. I think Sweden are the best team there by a distance; Norway are good if they have Haaland/Oedegaard. Maybe one of those but not both, and then anyone from pot 4?
    My preference would be to get a group that gives us the most difficult challenge. For me, that is Sweden, Norway and Montenegro. The more we can use the tournament as a means to test our progress, i think the better off we all will be whether pro/anti-Treaty/Kenny

    If i was purely interested in winning it, there is no gimmes in any of those pots really. Possibly Iceland, Finland and Armenia.

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    Seasoned Pro Razors left peg's Avatar
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    I actually dont mind who we get with any of those options. It all looks like interesting, exciting games. After the last few months Id go into the Nations League with great confidence. We wont go unbeaten, but for 1st time we might be actually competitive in this competition

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    Yeah definitely think the same

    My other thought might be though is what the likes of Finland or Sweden might do in the NL.. will they use it to refresh squads ahead of full Euro qualifying, so we might end up a campaign ahead of them with most of our transition complete?

    I think it will be interesting no matter what happens.. the "tournament style" of having four games in quick succession will also have a real make or break aspect to Kennys reign

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    Quote Originally Posted by pineapple stu View Post
    I suppose the question is what do we want from the campaign?

    It's a Euros cycle - but we were relegated last time and still made the Euro playoffs. OK, with 32 in the top two divisions, it'll be a bit harder, but I don't think we need to have that as our main focus. (I presume the Euro playoffs are still a thing)

    Are we better getting a mix of standards ahead of prep for Euro qualification? Much and all as any draw is going to be a step up from Qatar/Luxembourg/Azerbaijan, I don't think we should be looking to duck behind the weakest possible group. I think Sweden are the best team there by a distance; Norway are good if they have Haaland/Oedegaard. Maybe one of those but not both, and then anyone from pot 4?
    I think first or second in our group should be our goal for two reasons: firstly, that will pretty much guarantee a play-off place should it be required; second, it will show genuine progress from the last Nations League, when our record was three draws and three narrow defeats, when we had a solid defence (conceding four in six) but a toothless attack (only one in six). We've had encouraging recent results and our squad, in terms of personnel, should be even stronger by June - to break down what I mean by that, the following capped players are all under 25 and should become better with another 3/4 season of senior football (notwithstanding injuries, attitude, not being in current manager's plans):
    - Goalkeepers: Kelleher, Bazunu and Travers
    - Defenders: Omobamidele, Collins, O'Shea
    - Midfielders: Ogbene, Knight, Molumby
    - Forwards: Parrott, Connolly, Obafemi, Idah
    The following uncapped players under 25 have reasonable senior experience and could well become options by June - it may be worth looking at a few of them in March, depending on their progress:
    - Defenders: McGuinness, Dunne, Masterson, O'Hora, McNamara, Bagan, Kioso, Scales
    - Midfielders: Ebosele, Coventry, Kilkenny, Smallbone, Taylor, Elbouzedi
    - Forwards: Scully, Kayode
    The following group have limited or no senior experience but seem talented enough that they could make a breakthrough in the New Year
    - Defenders: O'Brien, Furlong, Adaramola, Roughan, Lawal,
    - Midfielders: Moran, Finn Benoa, Johansson, Noss, Watson, Devoy
    - Forwards: OkoFlex, Odubeko, Ferguson

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    The importance of a good Nations League showing next year is borne out by how the groups finished up tonight in the WC qualifiers

    If we were using the last Nations League finishing positions, with this set of qualifying results, then we'd miss out on qualification by finishing third, and also miss out on a play off place, by one place.

    Two of group A didnt qualify directly so would go into the play off path A, and we finished 7th of the Path B non qualfiers

    The top four Path B with play off in Path B, and next two would go up to fill Path A.. so we'd miss out by one place

    Its pretty imperative we either win or come 2nd in next years Nations League group to give us maximum chance of at least a play off should we not qualify directly

    We'd be a 3rd seed in the draw, finishing 28 in Nations League.. have to win our group to get up to 2nd seeds

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    I don't see any reason not to want the weakest team in each pot. These players still need to get more comfortable with Kenny's style of play, and easier opposition and better results will only help.

    Iceland are in freefall, in WC qualification they are 5th in a group of 6, below Armenia. Bosnia did quite poorly also.

    Finland would be nice, to see where we stand against them compared to our previous performances.

    Off the top of my head, Armenia seem the weakest team of that last pot, but tbh I don't follow things enough to know if that's true.

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    Seasoned Pro ifk101's Avatar
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    Serbia are arguably the strongest of the listed teams for Path B, and we can't draw them. We should be able to make a decent effort this time round regardless of who we draw. Only negative for us that I see is the scheduling of games for June.

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    The one tea m Id like to avoid is Scotland they are on the up big time and if they beat us I think that could damage our confidence.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ifk101 View Post
    Serbia are arguably the strongest of the listed teams for Path B, and we can't draw them. We should be able to make a decent effort this time round regardless of who we draw. Only negative for us that I see is the scheduling of games for June.
    The scheduling is a nightmare and don't know why they couldn't play some of the games in March for teams that aren't in the play offs.

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    Wouldn't see that as a negative. If we qualify for finals, they'll usually be played in June (stupid Qatar), so we should look at this as a mini tournament.. get up to 30 players in for a month and look at every potential option for the next two years

    As for who we get.. always look for the easiest.. why make things unnecessarily hard on yourself.. if we get the hardest.. then so be it

    Iceland from pot 1 would do the finest

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    Flipping it round a bit, hopefully there are fans in pots 1 and 2 moving us from the definitely want them to the not so sure now category.

    You always want to test yourself against the best but a mix of one better and two similar wouldn't be a bad draw.
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    Iceland would be ideal. Scotland would be a handy away trip, particularly for those of us in Belfast. Norway and Russia to be avoided imho.

    The pot 4 sides look like much of a muchness. Slovenia looks like the easiest in terms of travel etc but none of them particularly easy.
    Bring Back Belfast Celtic F.C.

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    Biased against YOUR club pineapple stu's Avatar
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    Is it too simplistic to say getting Finland again would offer a nice measure of progress?

    Probably the best of the pot two tasks as well.

    I'd be happy with Sweden, Finland and Armenia. Nice to have an excuse to go to Armenia

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