Keane gunning for top spot
Robbie Keane believes World Cup qualifying Group Eight is still 'hanging in the balance'.
Last Updated: 02/04/09 7:26pm
Robbie Keane believes World Cup qualifying Group Eight is still 'hanging in the balance' following Republic of Ireland's 1-1 draw with Italy on Wednesday.
Reigning champions Italy started as firm favourites to clinch qualification for next summer's tournament in South Africa and Marcello Lippi's men have made a solid start to their campaign.
However, Republic have also impressed and remain just two points behind the Azzurri after Keane's late equaliser in Bari.
Republic could leapfrog Italy with a win in Bulgaria in June and Keane is hopeful of claiming top spot and automatic progression to the World Cup.
He said: "We are still hanging in there. We still have Italy to play at home and we still have some tough games away - but Italy do as well.
"It is still hanging in the balance."
Asked if Ireland could still win the group, Keane replied: "Of course we can."
Midfielder Stephen Hunt has also praised the performance against Italy, pointing out that Republic could have netted a last-gasp winner in a rousing finish.
"We played well, especially in the second half," said Hunt. "We controlled the game and in the end we could have snatched it and it is disappointing we didn't.
"It's great, magnificent. It's a point and we are unbeaten in the group.
"Saturday (drawing 1-1 with Bulgaria) was disappointing - everyone was disappointed, we are not stupid.
"But we move on into Bulgaria and look to get a result and keep going."