The men of the Republic of Ireland under the age of 19 were forced to settle for a draw in the first in their friendly double jump with a talented Swedish side, who fought from two goals to 2-2 in Marbella on Friday.
Goals from Evan Caffrey and Zak Gilsenan had given Ireland a 2-0 lead at half time in the first half but a penalty from Ahmed Qasem before the break and a finish from Arash Motaraghebjafarpour in the second 45 was enough to earn the Swede a share of the change.
Tom Mohan took a squad of 23 players to the south of Spain to prepare for their UEFA U19 qualifiers during Europe in Bulgaria next month, where they will face Bulgaria, Bosnia & Herzegovina and Montenegro in their group.
It had been 689 days since Mohan’s side last competed in an international match when they were beaten 2-0 by Austria in Salzburg in November 2019.
After almost two years without a match, this was of course a very different U19 team with six players – John Joe Patrick Finn Benoa, Cristiano Fitzgerald, Oisin Gallagher, Jevon Mills, Josh Seary and Harry Vaughan – who won their first internationals in Ireland.
This lively Irish team eager to make a strong start began and they deservedly took the lead in the ninth minute after a relentless pressure high on the pitch created the chance for Evan Caffrey, who the UCD midfielder finished with aplomb.
The Swedes struggled to cope with the Irish press and Boys in Green duly doubled their lead halfway through the half under similar circumstances as their first goal, although at this point it was Zak Gilsenan who found the net.
But Sweden would get a save line just before the break when the referee pointed to the penalty spot, so that right-back Ahmed Qasem could shoot the ball past goalkeeper Daniel Rose from 12 meters.
They took that speed into the second period and just after the hour mark they took a draw thanks to right-back Arash Motaraghebjafarpour.
In the end, these two lively teams could not be separated and they will meet again next Monday, with a kick-off for 11.00 Irish time.
Republic of Ireland: Daniel Rose, Josh Seary (James Abankwah 62), Omatyo Adaramola, Bosun Lawal, Anselmo Garcia MacNulty, Oisin Gallagher (Jevon Mills 76), Cristiano Fitzgerald (Val Adedokun 62), John Joe Patrick Finn Benoa (Ed McJannet 70), Zak Gilsenan (Luke Pearce 49), Evan Caffrey (Ben McCormack 70), Jamie Mullins (Harry Vaughan 62).