Dublin (AFP) – Ireland must pick themselves up and “keep going through the storm” said captain Seamus Coleman after minnows Luxembourg inflicted a humiliating 1-0 defeat on them in their 2022 World Cup qualifier.
Whatever the end destination is after coming through the storm it is pretty much certain it won’t be Qatar for the 2022 finals which the Irish last reached in 2002.
Ireland sit bottom of Group A without a point, four behind leaders Serbia and Portugal who drew 2-2 in Belgrade.
They had opened their campaign with what was generally viewed as a decent performance in the 3-2 defeat by Serbia.
Luxembourg’s win — just their sixth in World Cup qualifiers — is probably their finest result since they drew 0-0 with France in a 2018 World Cup qualifier in Toulouse.
Qatar are the next opposition for Stephen Kenny’s side when they play them in a friendly in Hungary on Tuesday.
A win for the Irish would at least give former Ireland Under-21 boss Kenny his first win in 11 games.
However, with his contract lasting only till the end of the qualifiers and group favourites Portugal awaiting them on September 1 some are already speculating on his successor.
Ireland have not won a competitive fixture since beating Gibraltar 2-0 in a Euro 2020 qualifier in June 2019.
Kenny said the loss was “unacceptable” but added he did not fear for his immediate future.
“No, I don’t, no. I don’t at all,” said the 49-year-old Irishman.
Their fortunes have slumped dramatically since qualifying for the Euro 2016 finals.
Coleman captained the Irish when they lost honourably 2-1 in the last 16 clash with eventual finalists France, who went on two years later to be crowned world champions.
The Everton stalwart admitted Saturday’s loss was his most embarrassing moment in football but they had to move on.
“The only thing we can do is keep your head down, keep going through the storm,” he said.
“You’ve got to be resilient in this game and you’ve got to take what’s coming as professionals.”
Coleman said it was up to him and other senior players to lift the spirits of the younger generation.
“You’ve got to take what’s going and hope the younger lads aren’t tainted by that,” said Coleman.
“As senior players, we have to take it on the chin and take the deserved criticism.
“But it will take a while to get over that one. It’s embarrassing, full-stop.”
Players who enjoyed happier times with Ireland were scathing about the performance.
One of those was Kevin Kilbane, a key player in the team that reached the last 16 of the 2002 World Cup going out to Spain on penalties.
“Embarrassing. Awful. Out worked, outfought, out passed & outclassed by LUXEMBOURG. Another WC without qualification,” said Kilbane.
Arguably Ireland’s most embarrassing defeat was neatly summed up by the legendary Irish television commentator George Hamilton in his sign off.
“The sky over Dublin 4 (the area of Dublin where Lansdowne Road is situated) weeps tears of pain.”