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ROBBIE DETERMINED

Posted on 1 September 2006  - 12:00

Robbie Keane will lead the Republic of Ireland out in Germany tonight determined to put the pride back into Irish football.

Robbie Keane will lead the Republic of Ireland out in Germany tonight determined to put the pride back into Irish football.

The Republic's skipper and all-time record goalscorer wears the armband again for his country's opening European Championship qualifier in Stuttgart (7.45pm) with a 4-0 friendly defeat at home to Holland in their last outing still fresh in the memory.

Its a tough group for Ireland with Germany, Czech Republic and Wales all involved.

Robbie missed the Holland game due to an ankle injury but insisted: "Were all determined to put things right and what a great occasion it will be for the players and fans. Its a game that were all looking forward to and a game where we want to put the pride back into the team after what happened against Holland.

"That was very disappointing but we had a lot of young, inexperienced players in the side and they will learn a lot from that and take it into other games.

"This will be a tough one, we know that for a fact. I was very impressed with them in the World Cup and Jurgen Klinsmann did a great job with them. Now hes left, his assistant has taken over so Im sure theyll play in the same way, attacking football.

"We’ll be prepared and Steve Staunton and the coaching staff will be ready for it. This is a tremendous game for us."

Meanwhile, Teemu Tainio knows his Finland side face a tough test to qualify with Poland, Portugal, Belgium and Serbia all in Group A. They kick-off in Poland tonight.

"It's obviously very tough," said the midfielder. "Our first two games against Poland and Portugal are important and its vital we dont lose both of them. If we can get three or four points from these opening games that will be a decent start.

"Poland away to start is especially tough but we know we have to get something out of these games, three points is a minimum requirement, really. It will be difficult and we have to be ready for it.

"Every player wants to be part of the major finals and maybe this is the time. I think Portugal has to be the favourite, Poland, Serbia and then Finland. Hopefully well do it."