Mchedlidze wants to give coach perfect present

Striker Levan Mchedlidze hopes Georgia can hand head coach Kakhaber Tskhadadze the perfect birthday present by denting the Republic of Ireland’s chances of Euro 2016 qualification tonight.

Tskhadadze will celebrate his 47th birthday in Dublin by sending out his team at the Aviva Stadium hoping to follow up Friday night’s 1-0 home win over Scotland with a second Group D victory.

Asked if the players had a gift for their manager, Mchedlidze said: “To play tomorrow and to show our strength at the stadium, that would be the best present we could give our head coach.

“We will try to do our best to give him that present.”

Former Manchester City defender Tskhadadze had few doubts of what he would like for his birthday.

He said with a smile: “Of course, victory.” Georgia’s win over the Scots allowed Ireland to climb into third place in the group, which would give them a play-off berth if they were able to hang on to it.

Tskhadadze’s men still have a mathematical chance of achieving that feat themselves with three games remaining, although he is looking further ahead after replacing Temuri Ketsbaia earlier this year.

He said: “There’s a theoretical chance, but we are not living in virtual reality, we are not really in it. We are trying to win every game we play and we are going to use these games to help us qualify for future tournaments.

“It was a very difficult game against Scotland and after that, we had a seven-hour flight to Dublin. It was a difficult day yesterday, but we used today to the maximum to recover the strength of the team.

“We had a very difficult game against Scotland – they were very motivated - while Ireland didn’t expend that much energy against Gibraltar.

“We have problems. Not everybody is fit. We will see tomorrow, but we have three or four players with little injuries and some stayed behind in Tbilisi.”

Midfielder Jano Ananidze is one of those who did not travel, but whatever side Tskhadadze manages to field at the Aviva Stadium, Mchedlidze has promised a very different Georgia to the one Ireland beat 2-1 with a late Aiden McGeady strike in the reverse fixture 12 months ago.

He said: “We had a lot of motivation at the beginning (of the campaign), but we started very poorly. What I can say about the new coach is there has been a dramatic change in the style and strategy of our game.

“We are more attacking and play with more freedom. We played very well in the last game, but that was evident within a few days of the coach taking over.”


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