Keane form a worry for Trap
Published 13/10/2010 | 05:00
GIOVANNI TRAPATTONI declared himself satisfied after he came away from Slovakia with a point, but hinted that Robbie Keane's lack of match sharpness might have cost Ireland victory.
The Irish skipper missed a first-half penalty in Zilina and wasted another late opportunity in a frenetic conclusion where the visitors had to withstand plenty of Slovakian pressure.
Ultimately, it ended with a fair result, but Trapattoni was left to rue Keane's first spot-kick miss for his country.
"I know Robbie can improve his condition," said Trapattoni. "When he said he wanted to stay with Tottenham I agreed with him, because he would play a game or an hour here and there. I hope that will happen in the next month."
Overall, the Irish display was improved from last Friday's Dublin debacle against Russia. Trapattoni's team took a more positive approach from the outset, and Sean St Ledger put them into the lead.
However, defensive deficiencies came home to roost again, as Jan Durica capitalised on sloppy Irish marking from a corner-kick. In first-half stoppage-time, Aiden McGeady forced the penalty kick that Keane wasted. The Slovaks shaded it after the interval, but there were chances at either end. Russia's win in Macedonia leaves them in control of Group B.
"The team showed that they wished to win the game," said Trapattoni. "We deserved to be ahead at half-time and I think that maybe we deserved to win.
"The game was a lot more balanced in the second half. Our condition went down a little bit in the second half, so I can accept the result. I think in the next year, many situations can happen in this group. I predicted that we would be better after the Russia game."
Trapattoni paid tribute to newcomers Shane Long and Keith Fahey, and indicated that he will experiment in next month's friendly with Norway and the Carling Nations Cup meeting with Wales in February -- the two matches between now and the next qualifier against Macedonia in March.
Meanwhile,a disappointed Keane skipped away from the media after the game, but his team-mates queued up to defend their skipper.
"How many times has Robbie done it for Ireland over the years? He's allowed to have an off night every now and again," said Glenn Whelan.
"You have to give the 'keeper credit, I don't think it was a bad penalty. We had a great chance but he'll pick himself up, as he always has done, and he will be great for Ireland again."
Kevin Kilbane also expressed sympathy with Keane and accurately summed up the Irish performance on a tempestuous night.
"It was a decent performance from us without being brilliant," said the veteran left-back.