Martin O’Neill takes charge of his first game for the Republic of Ireland on Friday night, as his new charges host Latvia at the Aviva Stadium. The former Sunderland manager takes his first steps into international football against a side ranked 117 in the latest Fifa rankings.
Much of the build-up to the game has revolved around O’Neill’s decision to appoint former Republic of Ireland captain Roy Keane as his assistant, and all eyes will be on the dugout as the duo look to arrest the recent slide in form that saw Ireland finish fourth in their World Cup qualifying group.
The Republic have never lost to Latvia, and head into the game as strong favourites to continue that record. Currently managed by former Southampton winger Marian Pahars, Latvia have only won one of the ten fixtures that they have played in 2013.
KICK-OFF: Friday, 7:45pm
Republic of Ireland 2 (Aldridge 2) Latvia 1 (Rimkus), European Championship Qualifier, October 1995
Latvia 0 Republic of Ireland 3 (Aldridge 2, Sheridan), European Championship Qualifier, September 1994
The Republic of Ireland and Latvia have met four times, with Ireland winning all four games.
Only two of the past six Ireland managers have won their opening fixture – Steve Staunton and Brian Kerr.
Latvia manager Marian Pahars has achieved one win, two draws and two losses from his five matches in charge.
Latvia are the only one of the Baltic states to have qualified for a major tournament, having qualified for Euro 2004.
Republic of Ireland to win: 1.35
Latvia to win: 12.5
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