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Ireland’s Euro 2016 Qualifier against Poland may have to be replayed

NewsBy Karl Doyle
Midfielder Slavomir Ekstramann came on to the pitch - but the man he was supposed to replace didn't leave the field till later
Midfielder Slavomir Ekstramann came on to the pitch - but the man he was supposed to replace didn't leave the field till later

It appears that the Republic of Ireland’s Euro 2016 qualifier against Poland may have to be played again – after it emerged that the visitors had fielded an extra man during the first half at the Aviva Stadium during Sunday’s hotly-contested game.

FIFA officals have studied a video of the match – which ended in a 1-1 draw – and have discovered that, between the 27th minute and half-time, Poland had midfielder Slavomir Ekstramann on as a twelfth player.

He had originally come on to replace Lubomir Slavoslav, who was on the ground receiving medical attention and writhing in agony, but who never subsequently left the pitch.

Republic of Ireland boss Martin O’Neill was furious to hear the news, and the bewildered gaffer said: “This is quite incredible in this day and age, reallly.

“We wanted three points… we got one. If we have to replay the game we might get none, especially if we play the way we did in the first half on Sunday.”

Martin O'Neill is perplexed as to how the extra player stayed on the pitch without anyone noticing

Assistant manager Roy Keane contacted the FAI when he heard of the news en route to assess Irish players due to take part in the Woking v Macclesfield clash in the Conference League.

An FAI source said Keane slammed the phone down in anger at the end of the conference, apparently furious that he himself hadn’t spotted the infringement.

FAI chief executive John Delaney is reported to be stunned at the bizarre development, saying that he hadn’t noticed the extra man either. He did, however, make a point of doing a head-count on the teams at the start of the second half, remembering that: “I had to use more than two hands to count their players – I remember leaving down a pint in the bar to do that – but there was only one more than ten at that stage. There was 11 players.”

However, an FAI source said that it’s not all bad news, as a lucrative replay would be “good for business”.

The Polish FA were unavailable for comment, but said they were looking into the incident.

Martin O'Neill with Poland head coach Adam Nawalka during Sunday's clash

There is precedence under FIFA rules for replaying the game in such a scenario. Back in 1975, Uganda – under the guidance of then President Idi Amin – fielded 15 players against Saudi Arabia in an Africa-Asia Conference qualifier.

The infringement wasn’t noticed until after the game – which Uganda won 7-1 – as all the talk at the time had been about the Saudis' refusal to wear football boots, preferring instead to wear sandals – which were since outlawed by FIFA.

A spokesman for the Polish FA told The Sunday World: "Wszystkiego najlepszego z okazji Prima Aprilis dni."

UPDATE: Just in case you haven't noticed the date, this is our April Fool story for the day. Hope you enjoyed it!