Republic boss Kenny defends team from critics ‘wanting to kick us while we’re down’
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Kenny issued a passionate defence of his team after being criticised for the World Cup qualifier defeat by Luxembourg

Republic of Ireland boss Stephen Kenny fired back at critics “coming out of the woodwork” to “kick us while we’re down” after the 1-1 draw with Qatar.

The Republic’s friendly draw with the World Cup hosts extends Kenny’s winless run in charge to 11 matches.

Kenny used his post-match interview to passionately defend himself and the players after the World Cup qualifier defeats by Serbia and Luxembourg.

“I’m used to winning every week,” Kenny told RTE.

“I won the league four years in a row or whatever [he won four League of Ireland titles in five years between 2014 and 2018 as Dundalk boss], I’m used to winning.

“For about five years, I hardly lost any matches and with the Under-21s we nearly won every match.

“The reason I was given the job was because of my record so I’m happy with how the players are progressing at the moment.”

The two qualifier defeats, particularly Saturday’s shock loss at home to Luxembourg, heaped the pressure on Kenny, who has endured a difficult first year in charge after replacing Mick McCarthy.

While the Dubliner has come in for fierce criticism over the last few days, he insisted that he will remain as manager as he tries to blend youth and experience and implement a more a fluid passing style.

“We’re disappointed about Luxembourg, you’ve everyone coming out of the woodwork now wanting to kick us while we’re down,” he added.

“And that’s alright, that’s the gig we’re in and that’s part of it, you have to accept that, but I have great belief in the players we have in this squad and I think we’re going to formulate a very, very good squad over the next couple of years.

“I’m certainly going to be a part of that, I’m going to manage that and make sure we’re even better and that’s the way I genuinely feel.”

After being stunned by Luxembourg, Kenny was handed the perfect start in the friendly with Qatar by James McClean, who scored his first international goal since 2017 in the fourth minute in Debrecen.

Kenny praised the experienced players that were recalled to his team for the Qatar game, including goalscorer James McClean

However, the Republic were pegged back early in the second half when Mohammed Muntari levelled for Qatar, with Kenny saying he was “disappointed” to draw the game.

“We probably had the much better chances,” said the 49-year-old.

“I’m disappointed to draw the game, I felt we had some good chances at the end to win it.

“A lot of players are doing really well but at the same time, seven players played there tonight that have come right through the Under-21 team over the last couple of years.

“That gives strength in depth and there’s potential to improve the squad. The experienced players that came into the squad did brilliantly and it was a good display, I felt we deserved to win overall.”

While victory over Qatar would have put paid to the winless statistic that is hanging over Kenny’s head, he believes it would not have erased the pain of the Luxembourg defeat.

“I’d prefer not to be answering that question every week, of course,” he said.

“But I suppose the important one was that we got beaten by Luxembourg and even if we’d have won tonight, we’d have been disappointed with that, if I’m being honest.”

The Republic must wait until September before they try to revive their World Cup hopes although Kenny will aim to secure a first win as manager in June during his team’s nine-day camp in Spain, which will involve friendlies against Andorra and Hungary.

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