ROBBIE KEANE HAD just one word for Ireland fans and players ahead of their must-not-lose Euro 2012 Group C game with World and European Champions Spain, here in Poland on Thursday — believe.
The Ireland skipper and record goalscorer admitted his side face an uphill task to qualify from the group after their disappointing opening 3-1 defeat to Croatia on Sunday night in Poznan’s Municipal Stadium.
But with 48 hours to go to their second game against Spain, who drew 1-1 with an impressive Italy side, there was little pessimism at Ireland’s training base here.
“There have been a few upsets in a few games already, so there’s no reason why we can’t go into Thursday’s game believing we can get a result,” said the LA Galaxy forward, who was hard done by not to win a penalty in the Croatia game and was substituted in the second-half.
“There’s always pressure, there’s pressure before we came into the championship, you have to get results. It’s going to be no different than it has been before. I mean, before this game people hadn’t given us a chance so what have we got to lose?”
Ireland’s performance against Croatia was a marked contrast to most of their games under Giovanni Trapattoni, where they were usually defensively solid, and indeed marked a first defeat away from home in competitive action.
It was also the first time they had conceded three goals since losing 3-2 to Russia in a qualifying game 18 months ago.
“We’ve been on a good run, of course it’s ended a couple of days ago but the lads can’t get their heads down thinking too negatively,” Keane argued.
“We have to be positive and look forward to the next game which is Thursday against the world champions.
“For me it’s just another game.
“Of course, it’s a massive game but every game we play in is a massive game whether it’s in the championship or a qualifier, it doesn’t really matter it’s just another game, it’s another game that hopefully we can get three points.
“We have to approach it the way we have been doing. If you look at the way we conceded goals the other night the timing of the goals absolutely killed us.
“Apart from that they didn’t really open us up and create a hell of a lot of chances, to be honest with you, so, if we can just concentrate a little bit more. In a 10-minute spell we found ourselves two goals behind so we have to get our minds around that and be focused.”
Spain started their game against Italy without a recognised striker on the pitch, and before Fernando Torres was introduced in the second half, Barcelona’s Cesc Fabregas scored their only goal of the game.
Keane was shocked by Vicente Del Bosque’s formation, but insisted that whichever players Spain fielded they would pose problems.
“I think everyone thought it was a bit strange that they started with six midfielders,” said the much-travelled striker, who numbers Leeds United, Spurs and Inter Milan among his clubs.
“I think that just goes to show the confidence they have in the team. I mean, it’s not a bad six is it?
“They’re probably the best six midfielders in the world so…no matter who they play we know it’s going to be a tough game, they have world class players throughout the squad.
“It’s by no means going to be an easy game we certainly know that, we know we’re up against it. Listen, we still have belief in this squad that we can go into any game and get a result.”