Hatters striker refuses to give up on World Cup dream with Ireland despite 'embarrasing' defeat to Luxembourg

Town forward starts in 1-0 loss

Monday, 29th March 2021, 9:38 am
Updated Monday, 29th March 2021, 9:40 am
James Collins goes close for Ireland against Luxembourg

Luton striker James Collins is refusing to rule out qualifying for the 2022 World Cup despite an ‘embarrassing’ 1-0 defeat to Luxembourg in qualifying on Saturday.

The 30-year-old striker was winning his eighth cap for his country in their Group A clash in Dublin, and following a 3-2 loss to Serbia during the week, hopes were high against a side sitting 56 places lower in the international rankings.

In the first period, it was Collins who had the best chance, when found by Callum Robinson's cross, he couldn't beat keeper Anthony Moris from close range.

After the break, Alan Browne headed wide, while Collins saw his overhead kick only narrowly missed the target, with Robinson blazing an effort over.

However, Luxembourg then scored what was to prove the only goal of the game with five minutes to go when Gerson Rodrigues beat debutant keeper Gavin Bazunu.

Manager Stephen Kenny, who has now gone 10 games without a win since replacing Mick McCarthy branded the defeat as ‘terrible’, with captain and Everton skipper Seamus Coleman labelling it ‘embarrassing.’

Despite Ireland now needing a miracle to qualify, sitting bottom of a group that also contains Portugal on no points after two games, Collins wasn’t giving up, telling the Irish Mirror: “Certainly not, and there’s no point in any of us thinking like that because that’s not going to get you anywhere.

"First of all, we need to get ready for Tuesday and get a positive result there.

“Hopefully that will give us a lift and we go into the games in September full of confidence again, refreshed and it’s a new challenge.

“I’d never say that the World Cup qualifiers are over because that’s not an attitude that we as players and staff and a country should have.

“I completely agree with both the manager and Seamus.

"It wasn’t acceptable and it was embarrassing, we as players have got to take that on the chin and be better next time.

“There’s no point in dwelling on tonight, you’ve got to accept it, we’ve got to digest it and we’ve got to be men.

"We’ve got to move forward.

"I can totally understand the point of view of the fans and everyone watching, it’s not good enough, but we will do our best to rectify that.”

Although Kenny has come under renewed pressure for failing to register a single win so far, Collins backed the former U21s boss, adding: “It’s not the manager’s fault, that performance tonight, the responsibility lies with the players.

"We’re out there and we were the ones on the pitch putting in that performance, so I fully back the manager and all the staff.

“We should look at ourselves as players and try to do better and I’m sure that will be the case.”

Ireland take on Qatar in a friendly tomorrow evening, with the game being played in the Hungarian city of Debrecen.