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Keane happy to be underdog

Ireland skipper optimistic of upsetting the odds

Last Updated: 17/11/09 10:11pm

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Keane happy to be underdog

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Republic of Ireland captain Robbie Keane believes his team-mates will revel in the role of underdogs in the World Cup play-off second leg against France.

Nicolas Anelka's deflected strike at Croke Park earned France a 1-0 win in the first leg at the weekend and the 1998 winners are overwhelming favourites to book a place in the finals in South Africa.

But Keane feels Ireland are capable of pulling off a shock result in the Stade de France on Wednesday night after drawing both games with reigning World Cup holders Italy in the group phase.

Keane is confident Ireland perform better when they are not expected to win and is backing Giovanni Trapattoni's side to cause an upset in Paris.

"Over the years, it suits us probably better because, when we come up against better teams or bigger nations than we are, we always seem to do better against them," said Keane.

"We usually struggle when we are the favourites, so hopefully that will be the case tomorrow night.

"We are professionals, we want to win every game. We play football to win and it doesn't really matter what anyone else says outside.

"You have seen over the years the favourites and there are always upsets, and I certainly believe there is definitely a twist in this game and by no means is this game over, there's no question about that."

Massive word

The Tottenham Hotspur striker also outlined the determination within the Ireland squad to complete the job inside 90 minutes, rather than settle for a 1-0 scoreline which would lead to penalties.

Keane said: "I think we can turn it around - we have to believe we can turn it around.

"I have said in the last few days, believe is a massive word and I think everyone in the squad believes that we can win this game.

"By no means are we going into this game tomorrow thinking we are going to go to penalties.

"We are going to win the game. Hopefully we will do it in the 90 minutes and, if we don't do it in the 90 minutes, then of course we would take penalties - and, if that was the case, hopefully we would win them."

Keane is one of a handful of men in the current squad to have played at the World Cup finals in the Far East back in 2002.

He also suffered the pain of missing out in 2006 and admits that experience has simply increased his hunger for another spell on the biggest stage of all.

He said: "Of course, it was very difficult. Any competition you are knocked out of, the Euros and the World Cup, it's never easy to watch the games. You always think you should be there.

"But we have got an opportunity now tomorrow to rectify that and hopefully do the job for the team and for the nation, because we certainly deserve a bit of luck."

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