ANDORRA may have only lost 2-0 at home to Russia on Friday, but their coach Koldo Alvarez believes they face a tougher task tonight at the Aviva Stadium.
The former goalkeeper who retired after shipping six goals against England at Wembley last year is realistic about his side’s chances in Dublin, despite a respectable result against Group B’s top seeds. But the Spanish born Andorran is under no illusions about the task facing his players this evening.
“It will be tougher, a more intensive match than the game against Russia,” he said. “We want to play and to give the same feeling that we gave against Russia playing against Ireland.
“Ireland are a very strong team, they have clear ideas of what they’re doing and they had the opportunity to nearly qualify for the World Cup and it will be a very difficult match. Their players have a lot of experience and it will be a tough match.
“We have plenty of things that we are worried about. Ireland have a very good goalkeeper in Shay Given. The Irish defence has very strong players technically, and the squad has very good players like Kevin Doyle, Robbie Keane, Liam Lawrence.”
Koldo experienced many defeats as an Andorran international and after watching the tape of Ireland’s win over Armenia, he was downbeat about his side’s chances.
His task is to improve the lot of a country that struggles to compete on the international stage due to a chronic lack of resources, the reality of 25 defeats in their last 25 matches tells its own story.
Asked what he hopes to achieve in Group B, the coach smiled.
“We hope to win all of them, but we have to realise that we are Andorra,” he said. “We didn’t change the way we play since we were appointed, but we tried to improve how we play. We will try to be a very competitive team. We will try to play strongly in defence and if we can, play the ball as well.
“Armenia is not an easy team. The people think that it is easy to win, but Ireland had opportunities to score more goals.”
Eight years ago the Andorrans gave Mick McCarthy’s Ireland the fright of their lives when defender Ildefons Lima gave his side a lead at Lansdowne Road.
Goals from Kevin Kilbane, Mark Kinsella and Gary Breen restored order after the initial shock, but while proud of his goal, Lima wouldn’t settle for the same again.
And despite the multi-million makeover of the stadium, the centre half showed a sentimental side as he pined for the rickety old version of the Aviva.
“No, I’d be happy to score again, but we lost that night,” he said.
“It was almost ten years ago and it was another match. We will try and improve the image of Andorran football.
“I preferred the old stadium. It’s a very different stadium. The history, the charm that the old stadium had. This is a completely different stadium and a completely different atmosphere.”
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