Keane insists Ireland must cut out the late goals
Robbie Keane has warned his Republic of Ireland side they must stop giving away late goals if they are to reach the 2010 World Cup finals in South Africa.
The Republic launched their qualification campaign with a victory over Georgia in Mainz on Saturday evening, but with the score at 2-0 deep into injury-time, they were finally breached by teenage midfielder Levan Kenia.
In the event, the goal proved too little, too late for the Georgians, but Keane knows from bitter experience that lapses of concentration as the final minutes ebb away can come at a high price.
He said: "We have to work on that on the training pitch and stop conceding late goals because in the last campaign, it cost us dearly.
"It's important that we try to knock out conceding goals in the last minute because when it comes to where we are winning 1-0 and it gets to the last couple of minutes when everyone starts getting nervous, it's no good for the team.
"We were just lucky enough that we did get the second goal and in the end, it didn't really matter.
"But in the future, that could cost us, so it is important that we do try to knock that out of our game straight away.''
Ireland will hope to secure back-to-back victories at the Podgorica City Stadium tonight when they run out against Montenegro.
Six points from six would give them the perfect launchpad to mount a challenge in Group 8 with World Champions Italy overwhelming favourites to leave the Irish, Montenegro, Georgia, Bulgaria and Cyprus scrapping for the other qualifying place.
Keane knows the game in Podgorica will be another tough test, but having been to the World Cup Finals in 2002, he needs no reminding of the prize that awaits the successful nations.
He said: "I see a group of players who are desperate to win, desperate to do well and desperate to go to a World Cup.
"A lot of players haven't played in one before and it is what you dream about when you are a kid.
"When you get to a World Cup, especially a team like Ireland, the atmosphere around you and the fans and everything about it is absolutely fantastic.
"It's something the players are desperate to do. I see a hunger in this team to want to win, and you have seen that, certainly, in the last year or so.''
Keane and his team-mates trained in the heat of the Montenegro sun in the stadium at 6pm local time last night, an hour before kick-off time tonight, although neither the skipper, nor his manager, Giovanni Trapattoni, were too concerned about the temperature.
Midfielder Steven Reid is the only lingering injury doubt, and Trapattoni will make a late decision on him as he works to shake off a knee problem picked up in Saturday's game.