Monday, September 5, 2011

Keane focused on three points from Russia qualifier

Ireland captain Robbie Keane has admitted Tomorrow's Euro 2012 qualifier with Russia is a game 'The Boys In Green' cannot afford to lose if they are to maintain hopes of qualifying for the finals in Poland.

Giovanni Trapattoni's side were held by Slovakia last Friday in a disappointing performance in the Aviva Stadium and trail Russia by two points with three rounds of games remaining in Group B.

Russia emerged with a 3-2 victory in the first meeting of the teams in Dublin and Keane feels Ireland need to bring home a result ahead of games with Armenia and Andorra in the Aviva next month.

Keane told a press conference ahead of the game in Moscow: "It is a game we can't lose. We want to still be in the hunt when the last two games come around and it is vitally important we are in amongst it. There are nine points to play for. We're well aware of that.

"Our main focus is getting three points tomorrow and there is certainly a lot of games to play and anything can happen.

"I think our performances away from home, in this campaign and the last, have been very, very good. We are coming here with a lot of confidence. Of course it is always nice to come into a game on the back of a win but it wasn't the case. The most important thing is we didn't lose.

"We'll be looking for the same tomorrow and hopefully the three points. There is no reason why we can't win. Our main aim is to get something out of this game and why not? Why can't we?"

Ireland must also cope with the Luzhniki Stadium's artificial pitch, a surface Keane experienced with Tottenham Hotspur last year in Switzerland in a Champions League qualifier.

He warned his team-mates they must adjust to the pitch as quickly as possible.

"I played last year for Tottenham against Young Boys. It is certainly different to what we're used to. When we played them we were 3-0 down after 20 minutes because we couldn't get used to the pace of the pitch.

"That is something we'll try to get into the lads early doors and try to get used to the pitch as soon as possible. It is obviously going to be a complete change."

Keane was passed for the game despite a back problem while Stephen Kelly and Darren O'Dea also came into the team.

Ireland team to play Russia:

Shay Given, Stephen Kelly, Richard Dunne, Darren O'Dea, Stephen Ward, Damien Duff, Glenn Whelan, Keith Andrews, Aidan McGeady, Robbie Keane, Kevin Doyle.