Republic of Ireland 1
STEPHEN KENNY'S winless run in charge of the Republic of Ireland now stands at 11 games as they drew 1-1 with Qatar in a friendly in Debrecen, Hungary on Tuesday night.
James McClean’s early goal was cancelled out by Mohammed Muntari at the beginning of the second half on another tough night for the Irish.
Their hopes of qualifying for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar also suffered another significant blow with Serbia and Portugal winning their Group A games and both are now seven points clear of Kenny’s men.
The former Dundalk boss made eight changes from his side that suffered that demoralising defeat to Luxembourg with Gavin Bazunu, Seamus Coleman, and Dara O’Shea the only survivors.
Mahon’s Alan Browne was on the bench having played the majority of the two recent qualifiers, while former Cork City attackers Daryl Horgan and Shane Long were given a chance from the start.
Ireland started brightly and they took the lead after four minutes as Horgan’s quick one-two with Brady from a short corner allowed him to roll the ball towards the moving James McClean, whose powerful shot deflected past the keeper from close range.
They suffered a huge scare moments later as the referee awarded Qatar a penalty when Bazunu clipped Pedro Miguel.
But after consulting his officials, it was correctly deemed that the contact was made outside the box and a free-kick was awarded instead which ultimately came to nothing.
Long almost saw his dangerous cross turned home after 14 minutes before Qatar should’ve equalised on 19 but Almoez Ali could only send his free header from a good position wide of the near post.
The Bournemouth striker ought to have sent Ireland into the interval two goals in front but after capitalising on an under-hit back pass, he weakly fired his effort straight at the keeper.
They would pay the price for missing that chance as Qatar levelled at the beginning of the second half when Mohammed Muntari created space 20 yards from goal and whipped the ball into the far bottom left corner.
It nearly got worse on the hour mark but Hasan Alhaydos drilled low at Bazunu shortly before Muntari curled narrowly wide of the near post.
Browne was introduced late on as the Republic went in search of a winner but Josh Cullen saw his header from a good position saved in injury time as their winless run goes on.
Ireland’s next gathering will see them face Hungary and Andorra in friendlies in June as part of a nine-day training camp in Spain before their next competitive game away to Portugal in September.
REPUBLIC OF IRELAND: Gavin Bazunu, Seamus Coleman, Dara O’Shea, Shane Duffy, Cyrus Christie, Jayson Molumby (Josh Cullen 84), Robbie Brady (Troy Parrott 22), James McClean (Ryan Manning 84), Jeff Hendrick (Alan Browne 84), Daryl Horgan (Jason Knight 57), Shane Long (Callum Robinson 57).