The maximum number of fans allowed to attend the Aviva Stadium is still set at 25,000.  Every one of them will be there as the final tickets for the game that had gone on public sale have been snapped up.

It promises to be a special atmosphere with a buzz about the team again following the 3-0 win in Azerbaijan on Saturday.

It has to be said there was similar optimism after the game in Portugal and that deflated with the Azeri goal in Dublin at the start of the summer but as fans, we are resilient and willing for a team that we like.  And this is a group of players that we like.

Didi Hamann on RTÉ stressed that we should not get carried away, and the team is on the longest winless streak at home since 1971 but if a sport is not about optimism then what is it?

Flags and Songs

There will be jerseys and scarves, flags and songs in Dublin 4 and all it needs is an early goal to ignite the place.  It is important.  This campaign will not look well in the history books but it is all about forward momentum and this is the first of a final three games before the draw takes place in December for the Euro 2024 Qualifiers that will be our next beacon of hope.

Good performances against Qatar tonight, followed by Luxembourg away, and then Christiano Ronaldo at what could yet be a full to the rafters Aviva would be a great platform not only for Stephen Kenny but for the whole of the FAI.

It will lead into that draw and the next round of season ticket renewals that will be important in the long road back to financial stability.

It will be important in boosting the resolve of the major brands that have stayed loyal to the idea of Irish football, from SSE Airtricity to Carlsberg, Nissan to DHL and to Sky and Aviva who have doubled down on the Women’s game.

Vera Pauw’s side will be in action next week against Sweden at the Tallaght Stadium in an important first game in their bid to qualify for the next World Cup.  They also have momentum following their big win against Australia and the wonder goals that Irish players are scoring in club games here and in the Women’s Super League.

Attractive Partner

All this together makes the FAI an attractive partner for the headline commercial sponsor that has been missing since Three’s departure a year ago.

Having the backing of a brand that will use its own marketing skills and reach to tell the story of the Irish football teams cannot be underestimated, in financial and in momentum terms.

There is little doubt that sitting in the stands tonight will be business leaders that are considering whether to put their backing behind the FAI, to reach out to the one national team that has a greater potential for lighting up the country than any other.

A positive experience and a joyful crowd could just be the tipping point.



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