DAMIEN Duff believes Ireland can take inspiration from their Paris performance against France in the infamous World Cup playoff game when they face Spain.
Speaking after the Croatia defeat on Sunday, Duff said, “This was a massive kick in the teeth but we’ve had disappointments before and bounced back.
“France a few years ago, we lost 1-0 at home and played them off the park in Paris so we will be looking for something similar.”
As for the game against Croatia, Duff added, “It was a very disappointing night. We were well back in the game and to give away two goals at crucial times in the game but there is still a lot to play for.
“Goals change games. I don’t think there was much between the teams. But goals get the three points. We’re all very disappointed but have to look forward.”
Central defender Richard Dunne agreed with Duff.
“We just have to pick ourselves up, we can’t be too downbeat. We’ve got two more chances to get ourselves through,” Dunne said.
“We still believe we can go and win the games. Sunday was disappointing and we wanted to get off to a good start but there are still two games to go so there is no point in packing up and going home.
“We come back to Poznan for the Italy game on Monday and hopefully we’ve got enough points to go through. We have to believe we can still go through.
“We came to win all three games. Sunday was a setback without a doubt and we’ve got two really tough games coming up.
“But this is what we came for; we want to play against the best teams, we want to beat them and see where we are. This is the opportunity that we’ve craved for a long, long time.”
Dunne also had a message for the fans at home and in Poland.
The Aston Villa star said, “It’s still a massive occasion for everyone back home. The people who come over here and spend all their money to come and watch us so we’ve got to make sure when we get there on Thursday for the Spain game, our heads will be right and we’ll go there to win the game.
“We understand that we’ll be written off and not given a chance. But we’ve got 180 minutes of football so why not?
“We’ve done it before. We’ve beaten bigger teams that Croatia. We can go and win the games. Especially when everything is going against us, we still believe we can win our group and we just want everyone to keep supporting us.
“We were blown away by the fans at the ground on Sunday. It was the same all day in our hotel, they’ve been amazing. That is one of the biggest disappointments. They’ve not got the result that they deserve. Hopefully we can turn it around for them.”
MIDFIELDER Keith Andrews insists he will not be overawed by the Spanish threat in Gdansk on Thursday night.
The midfielder, now out of contract at West Brom, knows Ireland have to take something from the game to remain alive at the Euros.
That’s a daunting task against the reigning world and European champions, but Andrews says he is ready for it.
“No, it won’t give me sleepless nights, I don’t think so,” said Andrews. “We are obviously against top teams. But I think we can play better than we did against Croatia and hopefully we can do that on Thursday.
“We have to believe we can or else we might as well go back to Dublin now.
“It was always going to be a difficult group and it certainly proved that on Sunday night. The way we have started, we have given ourselves an uphill task.”
Andrews also explained his complaints to the referee after Croatia’s second goal from Jelavic on Sunday.
He said, “I wasn’t appealing for an offside, I was appealing for a foul on Stephen Ward, which a few of us were.
“I didn’t have an angle for an offside. Some people have said it was, some have said it might have come off our player.
“But I thought there was a foul on Stephen Ward, their player clipped him and the ball broke to Jelavic.
“It was just a reaction at the time. Whether it was or wasn’t, I’m not too sure.”
Acknowledging Ireland made life hard for themselves when they conceded a third goal to Mandzukic so early in the second half, Andrews added, “It was very difficult. Basically, we conceded goals at the wrong times.
“There’s never going to be a good time to concede goals, but certainly in the first three minutes and then just before and just after halftime are probably cardinal sins in football.
“You are taught that at schoolboy level. We shot ourselves in the foot. We were under no illusions - they are a fantastic side. It wasn’t a case of us being over-confident.
“Our preparation was spot-on, our build-up, we were going in full of confidence, but with the utmost respect for the team.
“We felt we could achieve a result and unfortunately, we weren’t able to do that.”
IRELAND captain Robbie Keane has vowed to make it up to the fans when his team take on Spain in Gdansk on Thursday night.
Over 20,000 Irish supporters have followed their side to Poland, with the atmosphere electric all through Sunday’s defeat to Croatia.
Keane said, “The fans were great and I’m obviously gutted for them that we didn’t get the result for them.
“I think the two goals killed us, the one just before half-time and the one after. That was the killer blow for us and it was always going to be an uphill battle from there.
“Now we have to lift it against Spain, for the fans and for ourselves as a team. We have to do that.”
Keane is also adamant he should have had a second half penalty against Croatia.
“I think so, yeah,” he said. “It’s definitely a penalty, there’s no question about that.
“Their players and their fans were shouting for us to kick the ball out but, before the ball got to me, I think the fellow stood up or was just about to stand up.
“Whether the referee had that in the back of his mind, I’m not too sure. That’s something you’re going to have to ask him.”
IRELAND’S defenders have been warned to expect to see Fernando Torres on the pitch when they face Spain in Gdansk.
Spanish boss Vicente Del Bosque caused a stir when he started Sunday’s 1-1 draw against Italy without a recognized striker.
Chelsea star Torres was introduced as a second half sub, but Ireland boss Giovanni Trapattoni believes he could start on Thursday.
Trap said, “After seeing the game I think that maybe he will start with Torres but Vicente decides his own tactics.
“Maybe he thought the Italians have a good defense and he would play with these small, fast and tactical players.
“He changed when he understood. At this moment, he had the necessity to put up front a big striker and he had a good opportunity.
“I don’t know how he will play against us, whether with Torres or Fernando Llorente, but we know which team we have in front of us, what qualities they have.
“Spain are the world champions. They have 10 players playing for Real Madrid, 10 players playing for Barcelona -- they are missing only Lionel Messi.
“We know their technique, we know their quality. But over 90 minutes, it’s not enough. We must believe.”
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