Matic: we can do it for our peo­ple

The Irish Mail on Sunday - - THE TITLE - By John Fal­lon

NE­MANJA MATIC in­sists Ser­bia won’t slip up to­mor­row to let Ire­land pinch their World Cup spot.

Fri­day night’s first de­feat of the cam­paign for the Ser­bians against Aus­tria means they must over­come Ge­or­gia in Bel­grade to be as­sured of their place in Rus­sia.

A sec­ond suc­ces­sive de­feat would en­able the win­ner of Wales v Ire­land to usurp them for top spot.

The Manch­ester United mid­fielder can­not coun­te­nance such a sce­nario, con­vinced Fri­day’s late 3-2 de­feat in Vi­enna was a one-off.

How­ever, ex­pec­ta­tion on the side to qual­ify for a first tour­na­ment since 2000 is weigh­ing heav­ily.

When the sides last met in March, Ge­or­gia forged ahead in Tbil­isi and missed a sit­ter to ex­tend the lead. Ser­bia ral­lied to win 3-1.

‘Ge­or­gia have played well enough in the cam­paign, and taken enough points, to de­serve our re­spect,’ said the 29-year-old, who was watched on Fri­day by club man­ager Jose Mour­inho.

‘How­ever, we are not in a po­si­tion to overly re­spect them. A di­rect route to the World Cup is within our own hands and that’s why this is the big­gest game of my ca­reer.

‘There will be no re­peat of Fri­day’s per­for­mance be­cause I am con­fi­dent we will win to re­main in first place at the end.’

De­spite only two points sep­a­rat­ing the top three teams in Group D, he is cer­tain Ser­bia de­serve to take the au­to­matic ticket.

‘Fri­day night was bad for us be­cause we didn’t play to our strengths but it will be dif­fer­ent against Ge­or­gia,’ he said.

‘We didn’t de­serve any­thing from the game. Our tac­tics were wrong and we just had an offnight. I still be­lieve in our qual­ity; our team has been top of the group for most the cam­paign and now we can fin­ish the job off in front of our own fans.’

ONE-0FF: Matic in ac­tion against Aus­tria on Fri­day night

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