Ireland 6-4 to win Russian roulette
JAMES McCLEAN’S moment of magic meant Ireland managed to defy the odds to reach the World Cup playoffs – now they’re going to have to do it all over again to get to the finals.
Written off by BoyleSports as 8-1 shots to qualify prior to their Group D showdown in Wales, Ireland are still 6-4 to make it even after booking their spot in next month’s playoffs courtesy of McClean’s stunning winner in Cardiff.
While Chris Coleman’s future as Wales boss is now in question – Betway make former manager Mark Hughes favourite to succeed him following Monday night’s 1-0 defeat – Irish eyes are focusing only on possible playoff opponents in next Tuesday’s draw.
The Republic, who have been trimmed to 300-1 from 500-1 to go all the way next summer, are in the hat alongside Northern Ireland – but both will be unseeded.
And that means potential two-legged shootouts against European powers of the calibre of Italy or Croatia, hence odds of 6-4 Ireland going through and bigger still that Michael O’Neill’s side make it to Moscow.
At least the Irish neighbours still have eyes on the prize, whereas there’s nothing but doom and gloom in Wales after they fluffed their lines on the big stage.
Now attention is turning to the fate of Coleman, who said prior to the qualifiers – and having guided his country to the Euro 2016 semis – that this would probably be his last campaign. However, Betway go 4-7 that he will still be in charge for Wales’ next international.
They’ve also opened a book on Coleman’s successor and go 9-2 Stoke City boss Hughes, who spent five years in charge of Wales between 1999 and 2004, resigning a year after suffering playoff heartache of his own against Russia. Portsmouth boss Kenny Jackett and Manchester United icon Ryan Giggs are next best at 5-1.
The future of Scotland manager Gordon Strachan is set to be discussed tomorrow after the Scots missed out on qualifying.
Strachan is contracted until the end of November – Coral go 5-4 that he is in charge for their first Euro 2020 qualifying match and 4-7 that he is gone. David Moyes is Paddy Power’s 17-10 favourite to take over the post.
Two goals from Gary Cahill – the second in extra-time – steered Australia to victory in their Asian qualifying playoff over Syria yesterday. The Socceroos go into an intercontinental playoff next against the fourth-placed team Concacaf qualifying for a place at the World Cup.