Alan Browne eyes Nations League success for Republic of Ireland
Alan Browne is targeting Nations League success after helping to boost the Republic of Ireland’s burgeoning confidence by leading them to an impressive draw with Belgium.
Browne came off the bench in Saturday’s FAI Centenary game to draw the world number one team to 2-2, extending Ireland’s unbeaten streak to seven games.
Growing confidence within the squad prompted defender Shane Duffy to suggest in the build-up that they should be looking to win their Nations League group, which also includes Ukraine, Scotland and Armenia , when the competition kicks off in June, and Browne thinks that is a realistic ambition.
The Preston midfielder said: “Our performances over the last year – I know we got a lot of criticism at the start but I think we’ve turned a page now and we’re getting results. up to performance.
“Our performances, even from the start, were really good, we just didn’t have the results to match them. When they go hand in hand, it makes for a good day in every way.
“We will approach the campaign full of conviction and with a winning mentality that has been instilled in us. It is quite realistic that we can go and win it.
It’s a view shared by manager Stephen Kenny, who is nevertheless acutely aware that the current situation in Ukraine could yet have a major impact on a tournament which he knows will test the budding momentum of his team.
Kenny, whose team will face Lithuania on Tuesday night, said: “It’s better to have positive results, but it’s good to have good performances like that, that’s for sure.
“It reinforces the message we’re delivering and people see that you’re getting success from it.
“It builds belief and it can be powerful when you do that, when you play against top international players.
“We have a lot to do. We don’t know the situation with Ukraine – they reached the quarter-finals of the Euros, they did it brilliantly before that.
“It is a tragic situation. Scotland have been great. Armenia, we learn about Armenia.
“It’s a tough group with Scotland and Ukraine, but we’re looking to improve all the time, we’re improving and building a team and we want to try to do ourselves justice.”
However the summer schedule unfolds, Ireland will head into it with a radically revamped squad and a newfound confidence personified by none other than Rotherham’s Chiedozie Ogbene.
Playing at his club football as a wing-back in Ligue 1, Ogbene has excelled since arriving on the international stage and scored his third goal in six appearances, a skillfully executed kick, against the Belgians.
His teammate Jason Knight said: “Chieo has been a breath of fresh air since joining the team. He’s great around the place and his performances have been great.
“We just need more of that and the rest of the team to move forward.”