Tuesday 7 September, Aviva Stadium, 7.45pm


Live coverage on RTÉ2 and RTÉ Player from 7pm. Darragh Maloney is joined by Liam Brady, Richie Sadlier and Stephen Kelly for live coverage of the Republic of Ireland v Serbia from the Aviva Stadium. Commentary from George Hamilton and Stephen Kelly.


Live blog on RTÉ.ie and the RTÉ News Now app from 7pm.


Live commentary on RTÉ 2fm's Game On.


The Aviva Stadium attendance will be capped at 25,000. With less than 22,000 present for the weekend fixture, it's likely to be similar or less for this game.


It will be a particularly warm evening in Dublin with the Aviva Stadium pitch needing a good watering after the dry weather.


With just one point so far in the campaign, Ireland's chances of qualifying are all but over. In truth, when reflecting on the misfortune Ireland have had under Kenny, and the change in profile of the squad, it would be unfair to expect progress to the World Cup.

Hopes should be about remaining competitive against Portugal, hanging in with Serbia and beating the lesser lights of the group.

Unfortunately, while one part has come to fruition, the failure to do the minimum is the rod to beat Stephen Kenny's back.

Many describe Kenny's appointment as an experiment - the scientific equation being appointing a manager with a background in Ireland, trying a new style of football and blooding a host of young players.

Some considered parts of it to be breaking bad from the start and results are hard to ignore. The difference between the end of the Martin O'Neill era and Mick McCarthy II is Ireland can no longer overcome the weaker nations. Perhaps they are not as weak as they once were, perhaps there is a new crop of players coming through and maybe some lack the quality needed for this stage.

In grinding out 1-0 wins over Georgia and Gibraltar under McCarthy, it felt as if Ireland were hanging in on the standing they had held for so long.

Over-achieving and being a second or third seed has been the position many took for granted and qualification was a genuine achievement.

Stephen Kenny's position will be the one under scrutiny and rightly so with the run of form. Nobody could fault the effort of the Irish players on Saturday, but as the game went on passing became looser and standing off Emin Makhmudov was a near-fatal error. Managers are given time when their hand is poor from the start. Time will not last forever if results don't change.


It's fair to say Serbia are a decent outfit. Dusan Tadic, Alexander Mitrovic and Nemanja Gudelj are quality players, with Mitrovic providing 43 goals so far for his country.

It's a frightening record and the envy of Ireland given since Robbie Keane's retirement we have struggled hugely in front of goal.

Serbia are filled with players operating in Serie A and Ligue 1 and the Irish team struggle to find first-team action throughout levels in England.

Their 4-1 win over Luxembourg and draw with Portugal shows they are a class above Ireland, on paper at least.

It will take a big effort and a little luck on the Irish part to come away with a result.


If the opposition is the difficult part, changing the trajectory Ireland have been on for quite some time now is even harder.

Goals have been the true problem for Ireland under a host of managers. Adam Idah has emerged as a great addition to the attacking options and has taken over the David McGoldrick-type role. A goal is vital to truly establish himself in the line-up but in terms of performances, but the Norwich City striker is doing admirably.

Idah reportedly came close to leaving the Canaries in the transfer window as first-team action will be limited at best. James Collins is understudy and is a competent Championship striker.

Aaron Connolly has shown plenty of endeavour, if sometimes lacking in quality, and again is someone who needs consistent game time to improve.

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The introduction of Callum Robinson made a real difference to Ireland on Saturday and he looks to be a certain starter for this game. Robinson showed far better composure and class on the ball, as well as pace and movement. He was unfortunate not to score against Azerbaijan.

James McClean struggled on Saturday and, for all his application, is now a League One player.

RTE Soccer analyst Stephen Elliott questioned whether Stephen Kenny is getting enough out of the players.

He said: "You have to be able to motivate these players, to make them go over the extra yard to win games."

"I'm not sure that Stephen Kenny is getting that out of the squad."

Such words seemed harsh as it looked like Ireland did go the extra yard in both games so far. They missed some chances late on against Azerbaijan and could have snuck a win which would have been similar to many which have come before.

Goals remain the major issue and a leaky defence not helped by an inexperienced and developing midfield lack any star quality.

However, it all comes back to the end product and the likes of Elliott's comments will continue to come as Ireland lose games.


There are many certainties in this transitional period for Ireland.

The first is 'transitional' does not even cover it. Irish football needs so much exterior support to develop players for the future that a focus on the current first-team and Kenny sometimes seems pointless. With an under-funded domestic league and even more so under-funded academy operations, no manager can change the bigger picture.

This is a game-by-game basis but as Kenny argued in his press conference, who is going to look at a grand plan?

It certainly wasn't those who came before and the likely contenders if he leaves don't give much hope either.

Secondly, Kenny will leave a legacy regardless of the outcome of the campaign.

Gavin Bazunu has been made number one goalkeeper at a very early stage and that will benefit Ireland for many years. It's also clear that Adam Idah has all the attributes to playing a starting role for years to come.

Andrew Omobamidele was introduced in Portugal as Kenny put faith in a 19-year-old. They are the positives and many more are being given opportunities like Jayson Molumby.

With Seamus Coleman ruled out today, Omobamidele could come in again for his second cap.

It could be another difficult night. A manager known to produce remarkable results needs one here.

Follow the Republic of Ireland v Serbia via our live blog on RTÉ.ie/sport and the RTÉ News app, watch live on RTÉ2 and the RTÉ Player or listen to radio commentary on RTÉ 2fm's Game On.

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