Friday 19 January 2018

'Remember San Marino' - Robbie Keane guarding against complacency against Gibraltar

Past experience has Keane wary of Gibraltar frustrating Ireland

Republic of Ireland's Robbie Keane in action during squad training
Republic of Ireland's Robbie Keane in action during squad training

Daniel McDonnell in Faro

Robbie Keane says the memory of a harrowing experience in San Marino will ensure there is no Irish complacency in tonight's Euro 2016 qualifier with Gibraltar.

Keane was part of the group which came within seconds of an embarrassing draw in Serravalle in 2007 during the tumultuous tenure of Steve Staunton in the hot-seat. Stephen Ireland struck late to break San Marino hearts and the Irish captain has stressed that he always reminds the dressing room of that encounter heading into a challenge where a comfortable victory is anticipated.

"That's a game I always refer to," said the 35-year-old. "It was one of the worst performances in a long time but in the end we did manage to get the three points.

"That's why you always have to be cautious when you are playing these teams, you have to be respectful and treat it like any other game. You look at the cups in England, there's always an upset somewhere and we have to make sure we approach the game in a positive way from the very, very start."

Keane did just that last October when he scored an early hat-trick against Gibraltar in Dublin, but he's endured a frustrating campaign since then. He was on the bench for June's draw with Scotland after a spell on the sidelines at LA Galaxy but arrives in good shape after a prolific stint in the US with the timing of their season meaning he's sharper than his striking rivals.

"Before Scotland, it was the first time in my career where I'd been out for more than four weeks. I've had a few good months now, the team (Galaxy) have been doing well and I certainly feel fit and raring to go."

Ireland will know where they stand in Group D ahead of the game with Martin O'Neill's men hoping that Georgia can take points off Scotland in Tbilisi and undo the damage of failing to beat Gordon Strachan's bullish group in two meetings.

Irish Independent

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