The Ireland manager is worried about the artificial surface at the Victoria Stadium, the 2,300-capacity venue that was eventually approved by European football’s governing body UEFA. There were FAI staff who believed the game was likely to be moved to Faro in Portugal as the small ground did not meet requirements. However, the Gibraltar FA have committed to improvements with regard to floodlighting, and media and broadcasting facilities and that was enough to secure the green light. Just 800 Ireland fans will be able to attend the first match of McCarthy’s second stint in charge. The FAI were not in a position to influence the final decision as it was a matter between UEFA and Gibraltar. Ireland will be clear favourites to kick off the campaign on a winning note. McCarthy’s issues with the pitch are not just about the impact on the match itself. He is also conscious that the surface can be quite demanding on players who will then have to play at home to Georgia three days later in Dublin. The Victoria Stadium has played host to some surprising results. Brendan Rodgers’ Celtic tenure kicked off in disastrous fashion when they lost the first leg of their… Read full this story
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