The Republic of Ireland is likely to be without key personnel for its European Championship qualifying play-off first leg in Zenica, Bosnia-Herzegovina on Friday. Defender John O’Shea and striker Jonathan Walters are suspended after being sent off and booked, respectively, in the 2-1 loss in Poland and striker Shane Long, who has an ankle injury, is also a major doubt.
The only previous meeting between the sides, in a friendly in Dublin in 2012, resulted in a 1-0 win for the home side, but the Bosnians have since qualified for 2014 FIFA World Cup, so may be a different proposition this time. Indeed, they’re on a winning streak, having defeated Andorra 3-0, Wales 2-0 and Cyprus 3-2 in their last three competitive matches to finish third in Group B behind Belgium and Wales. They’re looking to make it to their first UEFA European Championship but, with former Manchester City striker Edin Dzeko leading the line, they’re worthy favourites on home turf.
The lack of top-class centre forward is the obvious weakness in Martin O’Neill’s side, so let’s go for Bosnia-Herzegovina to record a hard-fought 1-0 win.
Selection: Bosnia-Herzegovina to win 1-0 (11/2 with 888Sport and Unibet)