Keane not giving up on Euro 2016
Published 14/06/2015 | 12:36
Robbie Keane is targeting six points in September after refusing to give up on the Republic of Ireland's hopes of making it to the Euro 2016 finals.
The Republic were dealt a blow on Saturday evening when Group D rivals Scotland emerged from their trip to Dublin with a point from a 1-1 draw which prevented Keane and his team-mates leap-frogging them.
It was a game most onlookers believed Ireland had to win if they were to retain any chance of automatic qualification, although the 34-year-old Los Angeles Galaxy frontman is in no mood to throw in the towel and has already turned his attention to the trip to Gibraltar and the home clash with Georgia when hostilities resume after the summer.
He said: "We'll keep plugging away. We're definitely not out of this and that was the message that everyone was saying to each other. There's no way we're out of this.
"Scotland still have a couple of tough games coming up. There are no easy games in the group, but in our next two games we'll be looking to get six points."
Given that minnows Gibraltar conceded seven goals for the third time in the campaign - on this occasion at home to world champions Germany - on Saturday, the chances of them denying the Republic maximum points in Faro seem remote, while Martin O'Neill's men will be confident of repeating their victory over the Georgians in Tbilisi when they head for Dublin.
At the same time the Scots, who remains two points better off than the Irish, have to head for Georgia and then host the Germans, and that - on paper at least - looks a significantly harder double-header.
However, Poland, who cemented their place at the top of the table with a 4-0 victory over Georgia in Warsaw, are now five points clear of Ireland with Germany just a point worse off, and with only four games each to play the pair are in pole position to claim the two automatic spots and leave the rest scrambling for a play-off berth.
It might have been so different for the Republic had they managed to build upon Jon Walters' first-half strike on a night when they enjoyed the better of the game, but ultimately paid once again for a momentary lapse which handed Shaun Maloney, the man whose goal separated the sides in Glasgow in November, to fire home an equaliser with the help of a sizeable deflection off defender John O'Shea.
Asked if he was disappointed with just a point, Keane said: "Yeah, of course. When you dominate the game and everything seems to be going to plan, then we switch off 30 seconds after the start of the second half...
"Football is for 90-plus minutes, so you always have to be switched on, knowing that they have clever players that can do something.
"The goal was a very, very lucky goal but we gave them opportunities to do that. Sometimes you need a bit of luck and they got it. "
Keane was used only as a second-half substitute at the end of a dreadful week for his family, during which his cousins Alan and Stephen Harris died after being overcome by toxic fumes as they worked in a sewer.
The striker revealed he would not have been able to start the game after making just three appearances for his club in recent weeks because of a groin injury, but insisted he was ready to play his part.
He said: "It's been a tough week. I don't want to talk about it too much, but for all the family it's been difficult.
"I was ready for the game. Physically I probably wasn't ready for it in terms of my fitness and the way I've been. I played 90 minutes last week - I was only supposed to play 60 but I ended up playing 90.
"I've been out for two months. It's a long time, so I wouldn't have been able to start the game, and trying to play for 90 minutes would have been difficult after being out for such a long time."