Football

Keane says Ireland will bounce back like a boxer

Keane confident Irish can recover from Belgium setback against Italy

GROUP E

ITALY v REPUBLIC OF IRELAND

(Tomorrow, 2.50am, Singtel TV Ch 141 & StarHub TV Ch 221 - Eleven Sports EURO)

Roy Keane has challenged the Republic of Ireland to come out "swinging" as they attempt to scrap their way into the last 16 at the Euro 2016 Finals.

Ireland have to beat Italy in their final Group E match in Lille tomorrow morning (Singapore time) if they are to stand any chance of making it to the knockout stage of the competition and, even then, four points might not be enough.

Martin O'Neill's men were left on the brink of an early exit after last Saturday's 3-0 defeat by Belgium and, while their task will be no easier at the Stade Pierre Mauroy, assistant manager Keane is refusing to throw in the towel.

He said: "We've got to be careful here because what you do, in sport or in life, you can over-analyse it.

"We believed the team going out there at the start (against Belgium) would get the right result.

"It didn't pan out that way, but you move on quickly. We've watched it back - and that wasn't easy, let me tell you - but move on to the next game.

"Some days when you've played well and you've had good days, you've got to move on quickly and I've always been not bad at that really, move on quickly to the next game. It's the same for the players.

"We'll be positive. You can look back all you want, but you're talking to the wrong man. We look forward and get ready for the next challenge - that's what sport is about.

"It's like a boxer. I've seen great boxers get knocked out, but you get back up and you start swinging and hope for the best."

CHANGES

Italy boss Antonio Conte is expected to make wholesale changes with top spot in the group already secured, and the Ireland camp do not really know what to expect in terms of his selection.

However, Keane is sure whatever team the Italians field, Ireland will have their work cut out to get the result they need.

He said: "I don't want to be talking them up too much, but they've got a bit of everything and that is why they are a good team. There are no real weaknesses, so we'll have to be at our very, very best.

"But we have beaten Italy before, so it can be done."

Meanwhile, Italy midfielder Daniele De Rossi says the country's lack of star power will not work against them at Euro 2016.

The Azzurri have not won the European Championship since 1968, but victories over Belgium and Sweden have given them a solid foundation on which to build in France.

"We are a team without that eye-catching star. We don't boast an (Eden) Hazard - and I mention him as he was the first we came across - or (Zlatan) Ibrahimovic. They are worldwide known stars," said the Roma star.

"But we have other skills that many better teams don't have. We are one, we are a team. A group that comes to life in terms of bench depth.

"Many teams field stars, but there is a big gap between this star and his replacement. In Italy, there is a big balance between he who plays and he who sits on the bench." 


- Wire Services.

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