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Mick McCarthy recalls unfinished business with Switzerland

Mick McCarthy recalls unfinished business with Switzerland

Switzerland : Mick McCarthy appeared to be joking in the post-European Championship draw mixed zone about getting revenge on the Swiss for that 2-1 home defeat they inflicted on him 16 years ago in his last game in charge of Ireland first time around.

Then somebody followed up with: “Joking aside, though . . .” and he cut back in to drily observe that he wasn’t joking. At least, he’s already got his motivation figured out.

His side’s chief qualification rivals might find it a tiny bit less straightforward for they have precious little to avenge against Ireland these days.

There have three competitive encounters between Switzerland and Ireland since that night at Lansdowne Road when McCarthy’s late bid to win a game Ireland were drawing ended up being seen as having contributed to a defeat.

On each occasion the Swiss have, when push came to shove, got what they needed and more than a decade on they are operating at a slightly different level to a side that might, for a short while back then, have been considered a close rival.

Much more recently, the Danes won the only game of four between the two sides that ultimately mattered. The other three have ended without a goal but it is fair to say that Age Hareide’s side coasted, fairly effortlessly through a couple of them.

The one in Aarhus a couple of weeks ago, when the Irish could not manage even a shot on target, would probably have promoted the FAI to dispense with Martin O’Neill’s services if they had not already taken the decision to do so.

It was scarcely surprising then that neither Swiss coach Vladimir Pektovic nor Hareide’s number two Jon Dahl Tomasson seemed overly put out by the third seeds their sides had been handed.

Nobody was foolish enough to be deliberately disrespectful, of course, but fear wasn’t exactly the overriding sense conveyed as they mulled things over in the mixed zone.