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Martin O'Neill: We have given ourselves a chance

SoccerBy Sunday World
O'Neill: I don't think the advantage is with us
O'Neill: I don't think the advantage is with us

Republic of Ireland boss Martin O'Neill is taking nothing for granted as he attempts to secure a trip to the Euro 2016 finals.

Ireland emerged from a tricky first leg of their play-off double-header against Bosnia-Herzegovina with a 1-1 draw in Zenica on Friday evening, and might even have returned to Dublin with a victory after leading with just five minutes to go.

However, O'Neill, who headed for Bosnia targeting an away goal, is refusing to accept that the Republic are now favourites to join England, Northern Ireland and Wales in France next summer.

He said: "Actually, I don't think the advantage is with us. I think Bosnia are capable of scoring a goal and we will have to play very, very strongly again.

"But we have given ourselves a chance."

Ireland have indeed given themselves a chance, but had to defend tigerishly for long periods at a fog-bound Bilino Polje Stadium as Bosnia dominated possession without creating genuine chances.

Robbie Brady fired the visitors into an unlikely 82nd-minute lead with his fourth goal for his country, only for Edin Dzeko to level three minutes later to leave the tie in the balance.

O'Neill said: "We might be lacking in certain things, but in terms of desire to want to go out, compete and stay with it, that sort of performance tonight epitomises that."

Central defender John O'Shea and striker Jonathan Walters missed the game through suspension, but are available for the return, although O'Shea is also battling a hamstring injury, while Southampton frontman Shane Long is yet to rule himself out as he attempts to shake off a foot problem.

O'Neill said: "Shane Long at this minute hasn't ruled himself out. I know he hasn't played any football - which is obviously very, very important - since he came off against Poland, but it's great to know that he doesn't want to rule himself out even at this stage."

Bosnia boss Mehmed Bazdarevic was disappointed with the way his side failed to convert possession into chances, but is confident they can improve on that at the Aviva Stadium.

He said: "The result is, as you can see, 1-1 and again, nothing is lost. I am still an optimist and I always am and I think we may, if we play better and have a better attitude, we can have a better game in the second leg."