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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Sep 3, 2006

Keane upbeat over Ireland's Euro mission

Republic of Ireland captain Robbie Keane is adamant his side have enough about them to qualify for the Euro 2008 finals.

Ireland made a controversial start to their qualifying campaign with a 1-0 Group D defeat to Germany in Stuttgart last night.

The only goal arrived in the 57th minute when Keane, Ireland's all-time leading scorer, put through his own net.

From a dubiously-awarded free-kick, a 20-yard Lukas Podolski drive was heading wide but ricocheted off Keane's ankle and beyond the despairing dive of Shay Given.

Then 18 minutes later and in his first competitive game in charge, manager Steve Staunton was dismissed to the stands by referee Luis Medina Cantalejo for kicking away a water bottle after admonishing the Spaniard for another lamentable decision.

Staunton now faces a touchline suspension for potentially the next two matches in Cyprus and at home to the Czech Republic on October 7 and 11.

Ireland will need to match the level of performance they put in against Germany, while at the same time attempting to find the cutting edge that was lacking.

Tottenham striker Keane feels confident the squad can make what would be only their second finals appearance in seven attempts.

'We're obviously disappointed we lost the game, particularly in the manner in which we did,' said Keane.

'I don't think it was a free-kick for them in the first place to be honest, but then the ref seemed to give a few things their way, but not for ourselves.

'I don't think I was offside for the goal I scored. Every decision seemed to go against us, but we can't make excuses. We can't blame the referee.

'We have to get over it, move forward and look forward to the next game by taking a lot of positives from this one.

'We played well. We showed passion, commitment, desire and we put in a lot of hard work. If we can do that in the future then we've a great chance.

'There's certainly a sense of optimism amongst the lads.'

The performance was in marked contrast to that against Holland 18 days ago when Ireland were hammered 4-0 by Holland.

The suspicion is, though, Ireland appear lightweight in midfield, while also lacking strength in depth as the seven-strong bench had an average age of 22, and with just 32 caps between them.

Keane added: 'It's by no means going to be easy, but we can still do it if we show the desire we did against Germany.

'After Holland we were heavily criticised, so we knew we had to bounce back, and other than the result I think we did that to an extent.

'We took the game to Germany, especially in the first half, and we had a few half-chances we were unlucky with.

'The consolation is we've probably got the hardest game out of the way, although there are other teams in this group who will be just as difficult.

'We now need to look to take something from every game, certainly from the next two we need to get something.'