Ireland's Paralympic football team expecting tough task in Rio, says manager Barry Ferguson

Ireland come up against hosts Brazil, Ukraine and Great Britain during the Games which start this week

Barry Ferguson

Image: FAI

Ireland's Paralympic football team are in for three of the most difficult games in the side's history this month in Rio, says manager Barry Ferguson.

Ferguson, who has had spells at Longford Town, Shamrock Rovers, Bohemians and Sporting Fingal, will see his side come up against Brazil, Ukraine and Great Britain during this month's Games.

Ireland face Ukraine in their opening game of the seven-a-side tournament and the 36-year-old says his team face a difficult task to progress through the competition. 

"We expect three of the hardest games I think we’ll ever have," he said today.

"The group draw really wasn’t very kind to us. We’ve got probably three of the best teams in the world, Ukraine taking over from Russia as number one.

"Brazil being host nation are probably ranked number two seed now and obviously Great Britain, who have come together with Northern Ireland.

"They have taken on some players from Northern Ireland and Scotland, three very strong teams and we know we have to work very hard to just be in a position to compete with them."

Ireland get their campaign underway at 6pm Irish time on Thursday and Ferguson is hoping for a bright start.

"With tournament football you want to get off to a good start, but we do understand we’re playing the best team in the World.

"Ukraine are a really good team. They are full time, it’s going to be tough to compete against. We understand what we’re getting into and we’ll compete as best as we can.

"The first game is more for our performance and our attitude more than anything else. Obviously we would like to get a result out of it, but it is massively important for us that we compete and we work really hard with a good approach to the game."

Off The Ball will be live from Rio every day as Oisin Langan brings you the latest news from Team Ireland and the rest of the Paralympics Games, tune in every night from 7pm