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Azerbaijan vs Ireland Final – LIVE Reddit Soccer 09/10/2021

Azerbaijan vs Ireland Final – LIVE Reddit Soccer 09/10/2021

After claiming just one point from their first five Group A matches, Azerbaijan became the second European nation after San Marino who have failed to qualify for next year’s World Cup.

Gianni De Biasi’s side have suffered defeats against Serbia, Luxembourg and Portugal, with their only point claimed against Saturday’s opponents Republic of Ireland in September, a game which they lead before Shane Duffy scored an 87th-minute equaliser.

Since securing independence in 1991, Azerbaijan have never qualified for a major tournament, consistently finishing in the bottom half of the qualification table.

Ranked 117th in the FIFA world rankings, the Milli Komanda have won only one of their last 14 international matches across all competitions. The last time they beat a side ranked higher than themselves was in September 2020, winning 1-0 against Cyprus.

A victory for Azerbaijan on Saturday would be their first on home soil since beating the Faroe Islands in the Nations League back in November 2018.

Stephen Kenny has endured a difficult time in the Republic of Ireland dugout since taking the reins in April 2020, winning only one of his 16 internationals.

That solitary triumph was an expected win against European minnows Andorra, who they beat 4-1 in a friendly encounter away from home in June.

Since then, the Boys in Green have drawn three of their last four matches and suffered a narrow 2-1 defeat to Portugal, a match which they were leading until the 89th minute before Cristiano Ronaldo bagged a brace to turn the game on its head.

Republic of Ireland have not qualified for the World Cup since 2002 and their hopes of ending their near 20-year run are hanging by a thread, as they currently sit nine points behind Serbia in second place, with just three Group A matches left to play.

Recent performances have been encouraging and Kenny will have been delighted to have seen his side fight back to claim a 1-1 draw late on against Serbia. However, a draw will not be enough for the Boys in Green on Saturday, as anything but a victory will end their hopes of qualification.

Azerbaijan boss De Biasi switched from a back four used against Ireland to a back five for the clash with Portugal last time out, though a return to a four-man defence is expected for the hosts this weekend.

Central midfielders Gara Garayev and Toral Bayramov are set to be joined in the middle of the pitch by Emin Mahmudov, who found the net against Ireland last month.

Striker Ramil Sheydayev, who has seven international goals to his name and is just two away from becoming Azerbaijan’s joint-second highest goalscorer in their history, has started on the bench in all five qualifiers so far and will be hoping he can finally force his way into the first XI on Saturday ahead of either Ali Ghorbani or Mahir Emreli.

As for the visitors, Kenny is set to stick with a 3-4-1-2 formation which has been used throughout their qualification campaign, with 19-year-old centre-back Andrew Omobamidele set to be handed his third cap alongside experienced duo Duffy and John Egan in the back three.

Manchester City goalkeeper Gavin Bazunu, currently on loan with Portsmouth, impressed during last month’s international break and he is expected to keep his place in between the sticks.

With Seamus Coleman ruled out with an injury, Matt Doherty is likely to start at right wing-back, with either Enda Stevens or James McClean operating on the opposite flank.

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