London (AFP) – Mick McCarthy expects the Republic of Ireland to qualify for Euro 2020 with a win in their decisive showdown against Denmark.
McCarthy’s side can clinch a third successive trip to the European Championship if they beat the Danes in Dublin on Monday.
It will be the sixth time the sides have met in two years and the Republic have failed to win any of the previous five, drawing four and losing one.
Denmark are currently top of Group D, three points ahead of third-placed Ireland.
But Republic boss McCarthy is convinced that barren run against Denmark will come to an end at the Aviva Stadium.
“When people tell me that ‘You haven’t beaten somebody for so many times’, well, I always believe it’s about time we did and that’s the mentality that I try to instil into everybody else,” McCarthy told reporters on Sunday.
“Just because it hasn’t happened before doesn’t mean it’s not going to happen again.
“There’s loads of places being flooded in England at the minute – they’ve never been flooded before, but they are because it’s been raining a lot.
“I just think that for us, always there’s a big performance in us that can win a game. If I don’t believe it, I might as well go home – and I’m not going home anytime soon.”
Asked if he accepted that Age Hareide’s team were technically better than his, McCarthy responded by referencing then second-tier Sunderland’s shock 1973 FA Cup final win over Leeds as proof that underdogs can upset the odds.
“If I sat here and said I was better than everyone else, you wouldn’t believe me, would you?” he said.
“I’ve seen a lot of cup finals. I was a big Leeds fan as a kid. I remember watching them against Sunderland. They were an absolute shoo-in, Sunderland couldn’t win. And guess what? They did.
“All of the games I’ve seen or been involved in subsequently when teams shouldn’t win and the other side has a better team and better players and a better manager and everything is in their favour, and they get slapped – well, that’s what I’m hoping will happen tomorrow.”
McCarthy is confident Ireland will give a better account of themselves than they did back in 2017 when, after drawing the first leg of their World Cup play-off 0-0 in Copenhagen, they returned to Dublin with high hopes only to be trounced 5-1.
The former Millwall manager guided Ireland to the World Cup finals in 2002, but even he admits to feeling a few nerves on the eve of his latest big game.
“I’ve woken up this morning with the butterflies with the boots on and I’m pleased about that, to be honest with you,” he said.
“I hope I am going to have a bigger one in July, bigger games playing in the European Championship. But for now, this is the biggest one.”
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