Keane warning for Republic players
Robbie Keane has warned the Republic of Ireland any lingering hopes of World Cup qualification will be over if they lose in Austria.
Manager Giovanni Trapattoni was putting on a brave face as he surveyed the wreckage of Friday night’s 2-1 home defeat by Sweden, which left his side three points adrift of second place in Group C with just three games left to play.
In all probability, Ireland’s dreams of making it to Brazil next summer died with Anders Svensson’s decisive intervention at the Aviva Stadium, but there remains a mathematical possibility, however unlikely, of salvation.
But only victory at the Ernst Happel Stadion would give them any real hope of fighting back, and even then, they would need results elsewhere to go for them.
Keane said: “You don’t really need to tell the players. We have a game on Tuesday and if we don’t get anything out of it, it’s finito, it’s as simple as that.
“If they can’t get themselves up for these games knowing how important the game is, then there’s a serious problem.”
It had all started to well for Keane and his team-mates when the LA Galaxy striker fired them into a 22nd-minute lead with his 60th international goal.
But Johan Elmander’s first-half equaliser killed any Irish momentum and Svensson’s 57th-minute strike completed the job.
Keane said: “How would you not be disappointed? But that’s the good thing about football, there’s always another game.
“Our main focus now is on Tuesday and we have to get our heads right for that game.
“It’s simple: we have to win the game. There are no ifs or buts, we have to win it.”
Sweden boss Erik Hamren admitted he had been surprised at the direct approach the Republic had taken during an opening half hour when they looked capable of establishing a commanding lead.
But having ridden out the early storm, the visitors settled and controlled much of what was to follow with their hosts simply unable to impose themselves once again.
Trapattoni’s reliance on his system has attracted criticism over the years and he was able to do little to alter the flow of the game despite making substitutions, sparking fresh suggestions that he has no Plan B.
Asked about that charge, Keane said: “When they got their goal, they obviously shut up shop and played a lot in midfield, where it was hard for our midfielders to get on the ball and make things happen.
“They kind of made us hit that long ball, if you like. It certainly has been a good weapon for us in the past and we probably got our goal from that.
“I know the defender made a mistake, but it’s something we have had a lot of joy from.
“But listen, it doesn’t matter, we can stand here all day and say ifs and buts. At the end of the day, we lost the game.”