4 September 2014 17:57
Republic of Ireland assistant manager Roy Keane is ready to face a partisan crowd in Georgia in their opening Euro 2016 qualifier on Sunday.
Working under boss Martin O’Neill, Keane will help guide Ireland through their qualification campaign, as the nation bids to reach a second successive European Championship.
Two years ago in Poland and Ukraine, under Giovanni Trapattoni, Ireland lost all three group matches, scoring just once and conceding nine times.
Their qualification for France in 2016 begins with a Group D trip to the Boris Paichadze Dinamo Arena on Sunday, and Keane is eagerly awaiting what is expected to be a hostile welcome in Tbilisi.
“We are looking forward to it, of course, we have said that for the last few months,” he said on Thursday.
“People are on about a hostile atmosphere – brilliant, bring it on.
“Everyone seems frightened to death, particularly the media. There’s a lot of negativity. Strangely enough I’m sure if we qualify, you will be first to celebrate and have a jolly-up over there.
“From the players’ point of view and from the manager and the staff – we have got a top, top manager and we will be ready. I don’t know what you are worried about.
“The reason we play these games is to get involved in tough qualifying matches. It’s going to be tough, obviously, but my goodness, we have got to look forward to the game.
“It’s a tough game, particularly away from home, but from the angle I’m looking at, certainly over the next few days, we have just got to make sure we get our own act together, make sure we are right tactically and we pick the right team and if we are at it, we can give them a tough game.
“I think every game is going to be vital for us. We have said since the draw was made no doubt Germany will be hot favourites, but every minute of every game will be vital. There will be vital moments and starting with Sunday, we need to be ready.
“It’s a difficult start, but we are ready for it. We will be ready on Sunday. That’s why you play the game. There’s nothing to be frightened of.”