Bulgarian boss Krasimir Balakov: "I was really impressed with the spirit of the Irish team"

Wed, Sep 11 2019

Balakov was impressed with the Republic of Ireland on Tuesday evening Credit: Michael P Ryan (ETPhotos)

Andrew Dempsey reports from Aviva Stadium

Bulgaria manager Krasimir Balakov admits that he was impressed with the spirit of the Republic of Ireland following his side’s two goal defeat on Tuesday evening.

The Bulgarians were more than equal to the challenge posed by their Irish counterparts up until the eightieth minutes, before a Jack Byrne inspired show saw off the visitors.  

I don’t think we were so good on the counterattack,” Balakov said during his post-match press conference.  

“Throughout the eighty minutes we played well, and we could have been satisfied if the game ended after 80 minutes but unfortunately for us, we made many mistakes in the last ten minutes.

“We lost our balance; we lost our concentration and I think this is due to the substitutions. I think the home team used their substitutes more effectively than us.  

“I was really impressed with our reaction from the England defeat but after the eightieth minute I wasn’t as there was a lot of mistakes.

“I was really impressed with the spirit and the passion that the Irish players had up until the last second and I think that was what actually made the difference in the end.

“I thought we dealt well with standard situations. Of course, we conceded from the corner, but you have to keep in mind that it is in the blood of the Irish players to play well with headers and cross the ball.

“I think we did our best to manage that and not concede.”

While football seems to be at a low ebb in Bulgaria from an outsider’s perspective, Balakov was keen to note the potential of the nation’s up and coming stars.

“We have some good young talent in Bulgaria but for these two games we decided to leave the under-21 players out of the squad to make them available for the under-21s.

“The under-21s have actually already won their first game away from home and they drew with Russia in the second game, so they have a good chance.

“We have a good level of talent, but nobody knows if we can use them in March. It’s up to how the next games go and how they play.”