Friday, November 13, 2009
Keane sends out rally call to the Green Army
Ireland captain Robbie Keane has urged the team to become national heroes by beating France in the World Cup play-off.
Giovanni Trapattoni's side host France at Croke Park on Saturday before Wednesday's return leg in Paris.
"If you look on paper, they have got world-class players all over the pitch," said Keane.
"But the one thing we do have is desire and commitment, and a team that's desperate to do well."
Keane believes qualifying for the finals at the expense of such a star-studded team would be remembered forever as Ireland's greatest achievement.
French manager Raymond Domenech can call upon a collection of global stars such as Thierry Henry, Nicolas Anelka and William Gallas.
However, Keane's believes Ireland's sheer bloody-minded determination can earn Trapattoni's men a place in next year's finals in South Africa.
"There are players who have never been in this situation before, players who play in the Championship who may never have the opportunity they have now," added Keane.
"They are fortunate enough to be able to leave players like Patrick Vieira out of the squad.
"We just can't do that, that's the gulf between the two nations."
Trapattoni also called on his troops to raise their game from the battling display in last month's 2-2 draw against Italy at Croke Park.
"We need the same spirit, we need the same performance, we need the attitude we have had in the games throughout qualification - but we have to add some more," added the Republic boss.
"Every player must in these 180 minutes add something more to his performance.
"We must avoid nervousness. These are important games and, in important games, in my experience, some players can lose their cool.
"They have to keep their heads and play as we have done until now and, with this mentality, we can play on an equal footing with France."
Trapattoni was in relaxed mood as he conducted his pre-match press conference in a packed suite at the Grand Hotel in Malahide.
He opened by enquiring, with a smile, where the French journalists were in the room and, after a show of hands, said apologetically: "I don't speak French," before adding: "I don't speak also English."
But, despite his humour, his resolve was clear as he contemplated the task ahead of his players.