The Boys in Green enter into their World Cup qualification double-header knowing that two victories will help them on their way to Brazil in 2014Jonathan Walters says that the Republic of Ireland are out to win their World Cup qualification clashes against Sweden and Austria.
The three teams are level on points in Group C and each team will be seeking victory in order to bolster their chances of qualification for the World Cup in Brazil in 2014. The Boys in Green managed to draw with Sweden away but endured a late sucker-punch at home against Austria, when David Alaba struck a 90th minute equaliser.
"We’re going to try and win each game," said Walters when asked if they were 'must-win' games. "We were very unlucky to draw against Austria and we’ve won our last few games before that at home."
He did not feel, however, that the late equaliser against Austria put extra pressure on the team to not drop any more home points on Friday against Sweden.
“It’s in the last minutes of the game, mistakes are made, we’ve done it against other teams. We were unfortunate but we just have to look forward to these games now and not worry about those mistakes.”
Of course, no conversation on the Swedish threat can be had without mentioning a certain Paris Saint-Germain striker and five-time Serie A Foreign Footballer of the Year .
“[Zlatan] Ibrahamovic is one of the best players in the world, if you remember what he did against England [scoring all four goals in Sweden’s friendly 4-2 victory in Stockholm], but a team is stronger than any one individual and hopefully we can keep him quiet on Friday.”
The Swedes expect to bring some 5,000 away supporters to Dublin, but Walters is confident that with the game almost sold out, the home support can provide the extra lift the team needs.
“Going back to the Euros, we had the loudest fans in the stadium by far, they tend to take over stadiums when they go away and [on Friday] it’ll be a sell-out. They’ll get right behind us,” he said
“Obviously it’ll be great to get a win on Friday. Is there something in the self-confidence when you’re going away, you have less to lose.
“The emphasis is on the home team to attack with the crowd behind them. When you’re away from home, you tend to be a bit more defensive and regard a draw as a good result, especially against Sweden. At home, we’ll be looking to win the game and obviously it depends on how and when the goals go in.”
Hull City winger Robbie Brady said there would be “no holding back” in Ireland’s quest for as many as possible of the six points on offer, but Walters takes a more pragmatic view.
He said: “We’ll see where we stand after the match on Friday night and take each game as it comes. It’s going to be a tough game and we have to go into it with the right attitude. Hopefully, if we can do that, we’ll get the right performance and the right result.”
When asked if the team is set up to achieve better results away from home with their defensive mind-set, Walters agreed that Ireland's best results have come away from home, but said that at home the team did strive for a more offensive approach.
“If the fans can get behind us, we can use their energy and get a result. Sweden would be a good scalp to take. After the disappointment of the Euros and going out the way we did, you want to get straight back into it, once you’ve got a taste for it.
"We want to go to Brazil and we’re all really hungry for these two games,” concluded the Stoke City striker.
Republic of Ireland host Sweden at the Aviva Stadium on Friday September 6. Kick off 19:45 BST.