Stephen Kenny's mindset was not altered by the UEFA Nations League draw in Nyon, where Ireland were placed in a group alongside Ukraine, Scotland and Armenia.
The Republic of Ireland’s next competitive fixtures will take place in June in the 2022-23 edition of the Nations League and the manager still believes that his side are capable of topping the group.
Speaking during the October international window, Kenny revealed that he was targeting the Nations League and believed that his emerging side could top whatever group they were placed in.
Ireland were handed a reasonable draw, avoiding some of the stronger sides, including the Scandinavian trio of Sweden, Norway, and Finland, who beat Stephen Kenny’s side home and away in the 2020 competition, while Iceland and Russia were also avoided.
Ukraine, of course, performed admirably at the recent Euros, reaching the quarter-finals, while Scotland have continued their resurgence since qualifying for the 2020 tournament and have recently won six games in a row to reach the World Cup play-offs.
Yet still the manager remains upbeat about his side’s chances, and while he accepts that the group should prove competitive, Kenny says that the ambition to top the group remains.
"My first impression is that it’s a really competitive group," said Kenny, reacting to the draw in Switzerland. "I think all of the teams are capable of taking points off each other so it’s really exciting from our point of view.
"[Winning the group] will certainly be our ambition. We’re going into the competition to win matches and to do well in that tournament. Without doubt, that’s our ambition."
Winning the group, of course, would justify the decision to stick with Kenny as he continues to build his emerging young side, but ultimately, the manager knows that the bigger picture remains to attempt to qualify for Euro 2024.
The qualification process for that tournament has not been fully finalised yet, but it is expected that the Nations League will once again provide a backdoor into Euro 2024.
"I think from our point of view you can see the improvement in our own team," said Kenny.
"You can see the progress. Since March, we have scored 20 goals, you can see the players emerging, we’re a young emerging team. We’re improving, we’re getting better.
"The objective of this team, and the way we built this team, is to qualify for Germany 2024 and that's a major objective.
"And one of the things about the Nations League is that obviously winning the group or possibly finishing second even could give you a playoff for the Euros, and that’s motivation enough."
Looking ahead to the six-game group, which will take place in June, where Ireland will play four games inside two weeks, and two further games in September, Kenny has the added advantage of being an interested spectator when Scotland and Ukraine go head to head in their World Cup playoff in March.
And Kenny thinks his side’s recent good form will be reflected by the home support at Lansdowne Road, where he expects the ground will be sold out for the Nations League fixtures.
"It’s interesting that Scotland have Ukraine in the play-off game in March. That will be an interesting game to see. We’ll look forward to the game," said Kenny.
"The games at the Aviva Stadium are magnificent, full houses, we’ll definitely sell out our games. There’s a lot of passion, real support for the team and all of the players that have come into the team.
"We’re looking forward to the group, it’s exciting to have those four games in June in ten or 11 days.
"And the game itself are huge motivation, great international football, great games against Scotland, going to Ukraine, who did so well in the Euros, getting to the quarter-finals, and then the games against Armenia home and away, so we'll look forward to the games and we want to do well.
"We have been building a team in the World Cup qualifiers and we finished really strongly so we're looking forward to the games in June and September, and they're important games for us in our calendar year."