Aldo - Shane Long has to start in Poland tonight

SoccerBy John Aldridge
Aldo dreaming of Ireland's Euro 2016 qualification
Aldo dreaming of Ireland's Euro 2016 qualification

Shane Long has to start in Poland tonight and we should have a real go at getting the win that would put us through to the Euro 2016 finals.

It may seem like a long shot for us to get the victory we need in Warsaw, but after the wonderful win against world champions Germany on Thursday, Ireland have to believe anything is possible today.

After his quite magnificent goal against the Germans, Long is the wild card that could give Ireland the victory they need against a Polish side that were given a hard time by Scotland in Glasgow as they scrambled to a 2-2 draw.

I know how it feels when you score a massive goal in a game of that significance and Long will have been floating on a cloud from the moment he fired that unstoppable shot past Manuel Neuer.

So while there will be a few tired legs in that Ireland camp after what was an exhaustive effort against the Germans, Long will be fresh an eager to go against after his cameo performance produced such a wonderful moment for Irish sport.

The events of Thursday night were so significant on a number of levels for our national team, after a few years when we have struggled to compete with the very best.

I was so fortunate to be part of the great Ireland squad Jack Charlton pieced together in the late 1980s and the emotion and excitement our successes created across Ireland are still felt to this day.

Every time I am fortunate enough to spend a few days in Ireland, I am reminded by so many fans what our run to the Euro’88 finals and the 1990 World Cup meant to the Irish people.

Well, Shane Long can expect to be bought drinks for years to come after that winner against the Germans and rightly so because that goal gave Ireland one of the greatest wins in the entire history of our national team.

It was also a massive win for boss Martin O’Neill, who has come in for a bit of stick during this qualifying campaign.

I’ve always backed Martin to stay on as Ireland manager heading into the World Cup qualifiers and whatever happens from this point forward, he deserves the chance to be in charge for the next couple of years.

Managers live and die by results and performances are not always that important if you are winning matches. If Brendan Rodgers had won every game for Liverpool this season – even if they team were not playing great – he would still be in charge at Anfield now.

This game is very simple and after ensuring we are in the Euro 2016 play-offs with one game left to play, O’Neill has had his mandate renewed.

Of course, the win against Germany will count for so much more if we can back it up with a second victory against Poland and we have to go into this game in buoyant mood as the nation looks forward to such a big day for our football and rugby heroes.

Do I think we will get the win that would mean we avoid the Euro 2016 play-offs? I am not overly optimistic, but we have a much better chance to getting a result in this final game than we had of beating Germany…..and we all know what happened there.

Come on Ireland!