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Stephen Kenny says Ireland will turn the Aviva ‘into a fortress’

Manager Stephen Kenny during a Republic of Ireland training session at the Aviva Stadium. Photo: Sportsfile© SPORTSFILE


Stephen Kenny says Ireland can become a force in Dublin and cope with the challenges presented by being ranked third seed for the Euro 2024 qualifying draw.

Kenny’s side could have propelled themselves into the top two by winning their Nations League group or collecting a high number of points as runners-up.

Instead, they face Armenia tonight knowing that defeat would result in relegation to League C.

Irish fans will expect a comfortable victory and there’s a strong chance that securing a third-placed finish in the group will be enough for a play-off if Kenny’s side fall short in qualifying next term.

However, favours would be needed from elsewhere to avoid a difficult opponent and the only way that Ireland can truly take control of their own destiny is by qualifying automatically.

With England and France amongst the potential second seeds, Kenny and his staff will have reason to be anxious before the draw.

“England and France are second seeds, but they’re better than some of the teams in the first seeds,” says Kenny. “Some of the teams in the first seeds are not as strong as that. That can balance out. We’ll see what the draw brings.

“I think our rate of improvement and the bond we have that’s growing, and the connection with the support behind the team in such an emphatic way – we’re going to get better.

“We’re going to turn this place into a real fortress here. We’ve seen that against Scotland.

“We want every night to have that passion in the ground, to create that and to inspire the players to big victories.

“That’s our absolute objective, to qualify for the top two.”

That success over Scotland is Kenny’s only competitive win in Dublin. Dropped points at home to Luxembourg and Azerbaijan killed Ireland’s World Cup qualification campaign by the halfway point.

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