The Republic of Ireland Under 17 side take on England in the UEFA European Championship quarter-final tomorrow morning in Zagreb at 11am Irish Time.
Colin O’Brien’s squad come into the game following a second place finish in Group C.
Saturday’s game not only is for a semi-final berth, where Turkey await the winners, but a place in October’s FIFA Under 17 World Cup in India is also secured for the team that advances.
“We have a process with the players whether we win, draw or lose matches,” O’Brien said reflecting on the aftermath of Wednesday’s defeat to Germany.
“We’ll always look back to look forward. Our message to the players has been the group stages was about three games. We performed very well in two games and we weren’t at our standards for the third game.
“The players have had the opportunity to look back at certain stages of that game, speak about it and then we got out on the pitch this morning and had a very good session. Everyone realises now we are in a different competition, it’s knockout now and it’s a derby game for us.
Standing in Ireland’s way on Saturday will be Steve Cooper’s England side who topped Group D with a 100% record following wins over Netherlands, Norway and Ukraine.
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“England are a very high quality team. The majority of their players are playing category one football in England. They are very strong at the back, have very good ball playing midfielders and their big players are their forwards where they have a lot of creativity, pace and power,” O’Brien said.
“We will have learned a lot from the last game, what we need to do better, and if the players do that earlier tomorrow we’ll be fine.
“The main thing is that our players learn. This is about their future. They are in a quarter final of a European Championships, it’s the furthest we’ve come in 20 years and they are getting loads of experience from it. That can only be good for our players going forward up to 18s, 19s, and Under 21s.”
With the game needing a winner, an experiment changing the order of penalty kicks taken by teams in penalty shoot-outs is to feature in the knockout round of this competition.
In the trial, the penalties in a shoot-out will see the team taking the first penalty in a pair of spot kicks alternate, instead of the teams automatically following each other in a sequence of pairs after the first penalty has been taken.