Azerbaijan vs Republic of IrelandWorld Cup, KO: 17:00 Oct 9, 2021, Olympic Stadium, Baku
IRELAND will at least try and restore some pride into what has been an absolutely wretched World Cup qualifying campaign when they travel to Baku to face the only side beneath them in Group A, Azerbaijan.
The Boys in Green are nine points behind second placed Serbia at the halfway stage of their group and it would take more than just the luck of the Irish for their Qatar 2022 hopes to miraculously spring back into life.
Manager Stephen Kenny has cut a bewildered figure and no wonder after a stunningly awful record of one win in 16 games since he took charge, which was a friendly in Andorra. They haven't won in any of his 12 competitive matches.
However, the FAI have ignored growing clamours for the former Dunfermline manager to be axed and he takes his team to Azerbaijan for a must-win game, for the country's pride as much as anything else.
They face Gianni De Biasi's side who are in a worst state than Ireland. They have won just twice in their last 18 games and haven't actually won a game in their home country since defeating the Faroe Islands in November 2018.
How the bookies view it
Recent head to head
Ireland were staring more ignominy in the face when the sides met at the Aviva last month and it took an 87th minute equaliser by former Celticv loan flop Shame Duffy to dig them out of a hole as can be seen below.
Players to watch
Emin Makhmudov not only scored against Ireland, but he's netted six goals in 11 appearances for Neftchi Baku in European competition and Azerbaijan already this season. He's a lively outsider to score at 8/1 with Paddy Power.
Ireland aren't really blessed with natural goalscorers and Brighton star Aaron Connolly may get the nod here. He's 11/4 with bet365 to score anytime in Baku.
Anything else catch the eye?
Apart from drawing at home with Azerbaijan, Ireland's recent results haven't been too bad – apart from a calamitous home defeat to Luxembourg – after losing to two late goals in Portugal and drawing at home to Serbia.
Surely they are due a win soon and they can't really have handpicked a more favourable venue and opponent than Azerbaijan, who have nothing to play for and seem even more down on their luck than their visitors.
There's unlikely to be many goals here too and for a further enhancement, try Ireland to win and under 2.5 goals at 11/4 with bet365.
This World Cup match between Azerbaijan and Republic of Ireland will be played on Oct 9, 2021 and kick off at 17:00. Check below for our tipsters best Azerbaijan vs Republic of Ireland prediction. You may also visit our dedicated betting previews section for the most up to date previews.