Team news ahead of the friendly between Republic of Ireland and Qatar on Tuesday; kick off at 7.45 p.m.
Chiedozie Ogbene thanked Republic of Ireland boss Stephen Kenny for believing in him after marking his rise to the international stage with a first senior goal for his country.
The 24-year-old Rotherham winger came off the bench in Baku to score the last goal in a 3-0 World Cup qualifying win over Azerbaijan, which ultimately ended the wait of Kenny for a first competitive victory in the 13th time.
It was only Ogbene’s second cap with his first in a friendly draw with Hungary in June, making him the first African-born player to represent Ireland at senior level.
Asked about his goal, which came in the 90th minute at the Baki Olimpiya stadium, he said: “When I scored my first goal it was overwhelming, I made a lot of sacrifices, my family and my friends.
“I owe it to the blunderer for believing in me because the team we have, anyone could have come anytime and for him to believe in me and bring me along, it was a special night for me and my family, and the team and the nation. “
Ogbene is one of seven players on the current squad who are currently plying their trade in League One and he admits the move to international football is important.
However, he’s thrilled that he had the chance to grab him and is determined to reward Kenny for his faith.
He said: “I believe in myself, I believe in my abilities and I guess I did not come here by luck. The manager has observed me for many months and years and he obviously thinks that my qualities are valuable to me. the team.
“When I was on the pitch it is obviously very different from club football. It is the highest level in football and it has always been a dream of mine.”
Ogbene’s contribution turned out to be the icing on the cake after Callum Robinson ended a hectic week with a first-half brace to put the visitors in control.
The West Brom forward had spent the days leading up to the game facing criticism after revealing he had not been vaccinated against Covid-19 despite two positive tests for the virus.
More overall, the result and performance eased the pressure on Kenny, who had won only one of his first 16 games as a manager – a friendly against Andorra – and saw the qualifying hopes of the Republic collapsing.
Ogbene said: “Obviously the mood is good in the dressing room, 3-0 away is a great result for us, for the manager and the nation. It is a late result.
“We’ve all sacrificed a lot and received a lot of criticism along the way, and I feel like we deserve it. We deserve to be happy and we have to maximize the opportunity and make the most of it.”
Liverpool goalkeeper Caoimhin Kelleher will make his first senior start for the Republic of Ireland in Tuesday night’s friendly against Qatar.
The 22-year-old made his debut as a substitute against Hungary in June, but is in the starting lineup for the clash with the World Cup hosts at the Aviva Stadium.
Speaking in his pre-match press conference, manager Stephen Kenny said: “Caoimhin is a really natural goalkeeper. He’s a tremendous talent. He has played 10 times for me as a manager. under 21, so I’m well aware of his qualities and he has done tremendously well.
“He was just unhappy last season when he got injured and that opened the door in March for Gavin Bazunu, who was great.
“Caoimhin made his half-time debut against Hungary, but it’s his first start tomorrow and in front of a home crowd, and he deserves it.”
Kenny has revealed he will make a few changes, but not in big terms, following Saturday night’s 3-0 World Cup qualifying victory in Azerbaijan, although midfielder Jason Knight returns to the squad after illness, he has some doubts.
Kenny said: “There’s just a doubt about Josh Cullen, who just hit his knee in the game the other night, and we’ll see how he’s doing. Daryl Horgan just has an ankle discomfort, so we’ll see. how it is too.
“On the positive side, Jason Knight will enter the team. “
How to follow
Republic of Ireland vs Qatar is live on Sky Sports Premier League Tuesday from 7.40 p.m., kick-off at 7.45 p.m. Sky Sports customers can watch in-game clips in the live match blog on the Air sports website and app. Highlights will also be posted on the Air sports digital platforms shortly after the final whistle.
- This is only the Republic of Ireland’s second meeting with Qatar, drawing 1-1 at Nagyerdei Stadium in Hungary this year.
- The Republic of Ireland have won four of their last five home friendlies (D1), winning their last two against Bulgaria in September 2019 and New Zealand in November 2019.
- Qatar have been winless in five matches in all competitions (D1 L4) since their 3-2 victory over El Salvador in July.
- The Republic of Ireland is winless in seven home matches in all competitions (5 draws, 2 losses), its longest streak since May 1971 (12 matches).
- Callum Robinson of the Republic of Ireland scored a brace against Azerbaijan last time around, after scoring only once in his first 20 senior international appearances for the nation previously. The last player to score in consecutive appearances for the Republic of Ireland was Jonathan Walters in 2017.