Stephen Kenny calls on Ireland to forfeit matches against the Netherlands

    Republic of Ireland head coach Stephen Kenny has urged his players to put in the best performance of their lives as their Euro 2024 hopes hang in the balance.

    Group B’s 2-0 defeat in Paris on Thursday night means Ireland have only picked up three points from their first four games and they really need to beat the Netherlands in Dublin on Sunday to have any chance of progress.

    Speaking in the bowels of the Parc des Princes after a grueling night of mesmerizing Kylian Mbappe, Antoine Griezmann and Ousmane Dembele, Kenny said: “Now we need to get ready for Sunday.

    “We knew that if Holland beat Greece tonight, and we beat Holland, we would have an equal level on Sunday. In October we will have Greece at home and Gibraltar away, so this is very important for us. We know that this is very important to us.

    “The energy of the home audience was special, it was electrified at home and we will need it again on Sunday to achieve the best results of our lives. That’s what we need to do.”

    Ireland arrived in Paris knowing they would have to counter it due to the quality of the opposition and the heat and although they fought courageously throughout the entire time, a class gap – Didier Deschamps was able to take the Champions League winners off his bench while one of Kenny’s replacements, James McClean, is currently playing his football for League Two team Wrexham, as was later revealed.

    Aurélien Chouameni put the French ahead in the 19th minute as Ireland fell out again and the world No. 2 side never looked back against FIFA No. 53 opponents.

    Three minutes into the match, they extended their lead with substitute Marcus Thuram replacing the injured Olivier Giroud in the first half, and although Mike Meignan needed a good save to keep off a header from Chiedozi Ogbene, the Republicans had to defend with all their might. to ensure that the lead in victory did not go beyond 2–0.

    Kenny said: “Honestly, it’s clear that France is a world-class team, a really top-notch international team, one of the best teams in the world, if not the best.

    “But I can’t blame my players. I thought they really gave everything in the match. We must have been beaten by a stronger team. For many players, this is the best team they have ever played against.

    “Of course, we could have achieved many times more, that’s for sure, but everyone gave everything of themselves.”

    France head coach Didier Deschamps admitted that his team could have acted more decisively, but was generally satisfied.

    He said: “We could have done more, but overall I am very pleased with the result and the performance of the players.

    “Kylian did good things even if he didn’t score. Not always Olivier Giroud or Kylian Mbappe should score. It’s more about focusing on the goal, on the qualifications.

    “We had many chances to score, especially from outside the box. We expected a good team from Ireland. With their three defenders, they were very active.

    “They created some difficult situations for us, especially if you remember the game in Dublin, which was a bit risky for us. It’s a team that plays very deep and there were some difficulties.”

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