Our prediction for this World Cup 2022 match:
Baku Olympic Stadium will host Saturday’s football game between Azerbaijan and Republic of Ireland, the two teams who are still eyeing their first win in the 2022 World Cup qualifiers. Azerbaijan failed to impress in a 3-0 loss to Portugal in September, but they did well to hold Ireland to a 1-1 draw in Dublin. The Azeri are desperate to record their first win of the process, and they are likely to adopt an attack-minded approach against the Boys in Green. Wisla Plock defender Anton Kryvotsiuk is banned for the hosts.
Ireland, on the other hand, were more than fortunate not to suffer a loss to Serbia in their last group game. Since Stephen Kenny’s troops will go for a win in Saturday’s qualifier as well, we are tempted to put our money on both teams to score. Both Seamus Coleman and Dara O’Shea are sidelined with injuries for the away team, but all Enda Stevens, Jason Knight, and Chiedozie Ogbene all return to contention after missing the September qualifiers through injuries.
Highlighted Player (Steven Davis):
Born in Ballymena on 1 January 1985, Steven Davis is probably the most famous Northern Irish footballer of the 21st century, and he was one of team’s youngest ever captains, having been awarded the armband just over a year after making his debut for the national team.
The combative midfielder has spent his entire career up to date in the UK, enjoying successful spells with Aston Villa, Fulham, Rangers and Southampton, while representing the country of his birth at various youth levels before getting a chance to shine at the biggest stage.
Davis soon established himself as a leader of the Northern Ireland football team, missing just a handful of competitive fixtures since making his debut in 2005. The central midfielder scored 2 goals to help the national team finally secure their place at a major tournament, with an impressive Euro 2016 qualifying campaign likely to remain fresh in the minds of both the players and fans alike in years to come.
Highlighted Team (Ireland):
Competing as an independent entity since 1953, Republic of Ireland have struggled to match the world’s best national teams ever since, although they did achieve several respectable results on the road. Their best ever result, the 1990 World Cup quarter-final, was achieved with a big smile from Lady Luck seeing that the Irish reached the last eight without winning a single match.
They have since reached the last 16 stage at the 1994 and 2002 tournaments, while only qualifying for three European Championship finals (1988, 2012, 2016). The Irish were in the top 10 of the FIFA Rankings in 1993 and 1994, but have failed to repeat the success in the next twenty odd years, and it appears they are no closer to bridging the gap behind European powerhouses.
Robbie Keane holds the record for most national team caps and goals at the same time, having bagged 67 in 143 appearances, whereas Niall Quinn, Steve Staunton, Damien Duff, Tony Cascarino and Don Givens are some of the other star players.