Thursday 14 December 2017

We're not afraid of Belgium - Keane

Ireland assistant manager Roy Keane during a press conference at Versailles in Paris
Ireland assistant manager Roy Keane during a press conference at Versailles in Paris
Daniel McDonnell

Daniel McDonnell

Roy Keane insists that Ireland have no reason to be afraid of the top-ranked side in Europe when they face Belgium in Bordeaux tomorrow.

The Irish assistant has dismissed the significance of Belgium's lofty status in the FIFA list ahead of the crunch Group E encounter.

Marc Wilmots' side are rated second in the world behind Argentina while Ireland are 33rd, but Keane has asserted that the position in the charts will have no impact on how Martin O'Neill's charges approach the game.

"There won't be any fear factor," stressed Keane. "It's our job to make sure there's not.

"It's strange how the UEFA and FIFA rankings pan out but when you walk onto the pitch you don't think in terms of rankings. You just think of your own performance.

"We believe if we can play well, there's a good chance we can get a result. If we're not at it, there's a good chance we'll get beaten. Rankings? Trust me, over the next day or two, we won't be talking about rankings."

Keane swatted away a question from a Belgian journalist which suggested that Ireland might have an edge considering they took a point from their opening match while Wilmots' top seeds lost to Italy.

However, he hinted that there might be some anxiety in the Belgian camp in the wake of their Italian reverse.

When asked if the Belgians would be worried about Ireland game, he replied: "I'm sure they are. If you don't get anything from your first match, the pressure follows on.

"People are talking about the pressure on Belgium, but there's huge pressure on us to get a result. That's why we're in the game."

The 44-year-old added that Irish management asked questions of themselves after losing the Swedish lead. "Players analyse their performance and so do the staff," he said. "Could we have done this? Could we have changed that earlier? You have to be self-critical."

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