International Friendly Preview: Republic of Ireland -v- New Zealand
James McClean will bring the curtain down on his international career on Tuesday night when the Boys in Green host New Zealand at the Aviva Stadium (kick-off is at 7.45pm).
REPUBLIC OF IRELAND
Ireland boss Stephen Kenny wants Ireland to sign off for 2023 on a high against the All Whites in Dublin 4.
But the game might be his last in the dugout as manager with his contract set to expire at the end of the month.
Kenny was tasked with guiding Ireland to Euro 2024 - but a disastrous qualifying campaign ruined those hopes, meaning qualification is over with no prospects of a play-off up for grabs.
Although, he will be hoping that they can at least sign off with a win for 2023.
The game will also be James McClean’s last as an Irish international, as the former Derry City winger brings an end to his 103-cap career.
"We played Holland the other night and they are one of the best teams in Europe,” Kenny said. “People will have their own opinions on it but I thought it was a good game of football.
“Holland were the better team but we fought to the end of that game. It was a tight game in Holland that we lost 1-0 and deserved to lose.
“It was one of those games, I think with a bit of perspective on that.
"We've got one missing from the squad really, Nathan Collins has an ankle ligaments injury. The squad is as it is otherwise. We'll see today but I think Evan Ferguson seems to be OK and he'll be included in the squad.
"If it is my last game, so be it. Regardless of what decision is made and if there is a new manager to come in after me, I’ll wish them well, and I’ll wish the team well moving forward."
Possible Ireland XI (4-3-3): Bazunu; Doherty, Shane Duffy, Liam Scales, James McClean; Josh Cullen, Alan Browne, Jason Knight; Jamie McGrath, Mikey Johnston; Evan Ferguson.
Having lost their last six away games, New Zealand visit Dublin with a point to prove.
During that period, they were beaten by Greece (2-0), Australia (2-0), Sweden (4-1), Australia (1-0), Costa Rica (1-0) and Peru (1-0).
And while their squad is not as strong as it has been in previous years, they do possess two well-known English-based players in their squad in Chris Wood and Tommy Smith.
Wood currently plies his trade for Premier League side Nottingham Forest while Smith lines out for MK Dons in League Two alongside ex-League of Ireland stars Darragh Burns, Warren O’Hora, Dawson Devoy and Michael Kelly.
Sligo Rovers defender Nando Pijnaker is also in their squad for the fixture, as is former Bit O’Red striker Max Mata - who is now playing for English League One side Shrewsbury Town.
All Whites boss Darren Bazeley has also recently taken charge of New Zealand on a permanent basis having been installed as chief in July.
He has led them to a draw and two defeats thus far.
Grinding in Dublin pic.twitter.com/olKZ19aPw6— New Zealand Football (@NZ_Football) November 20, 2023
Their most recent loss came against Greece on Friday, losing 2-0 in Athens against Ireland’s Euro 2024 Group B rivals.
They sit 103rd in the Fifa world rankings, with Ireland well ahead of them in 58th position.
Referee: Urs Schnyder (Switzerland).
Ireland and New Zealand’s last meeting came in November 2019 when the Boys in Green saw their opponents off 3-1 in Dublin. Derrick Williams, Sean Maguire and Callum Robinson all netted for the then-Mick McCarthy managed side.
The All Whites are winless in their last 11 fixtures against European opponents, losing nine and drawing two. Their last victory over a Uefa-affiliated side came against Serbia in May 2010.
Apart from the two games against Gibraltar, the Boys in Green have not scored a goal from play in 2023. They scored a penalty against the Netherlands and from a corner against Greece.
Republic of Ireland 2-0 New Zealand
Republic of Ireland
Injured: Nathan Collins, Chiedozie Ogbene, Will Smallbone, Festy Ebosele.