Ireland facing play-off tension
The Republic of Ireland are facing another play-off even if they overcome Cyprus this weekend. After a fantastic qualifying effort, the Republic are level on points with Portugal.
However, Portugal's goal difference is seven better then Ireland's, and only a miracle would prevent the Portuguese topping the group. A tricky tie with an Asian side looms for the Irish.
The Irish are guaranteed of at least the play-off spot, but with their recent record in play-offs, they would prefer to avoid one at all costs.
In 1998 they lost to Belgium in a World Cup qualifying play-off, and missed Euro 2000 after failing to beat Turkey in another play-off.
However, even with Niall Quinn set to break the Irish goal-scoring record of 20 goals, Ireland will struggle to get the goals they need to hit the top spot.
4th October 2001