SHANE Duffy believes Republic of Ireland can still reach the 2018 FIFA World Cup Finals in Russia despite Tuesday night’s disastrous defeat to Group D leaders Serbia at the Aviva Stadium.
Despite a hugely promising start to their World Cup qualifying campaign where they garnered 10 points from a possible 12, Ireland now find themselves in real danger of missing out on a play-off spot.
The 1-0 loss to 10 man Serbia leaves Ireland one point behind second placed, Wales and five points behind the group leaders with just two games remaining.
Martin O’Neill’s men finish their campaign at the Millenium Stadium in Wales after hosting Moldovo next month but will require results elsewhere to go in their favour. if they are to clinch one of the eight play-off spots which will keep the dream alive.
And Brighton & Hove Albion centre half, Duffy, who netted his first senior international goal against Georgia in the 1-1 draw in Tiblisi last Saturday, insists the Ireland team haven’t given up hope just yet.
“Probably at the start of the campaign, with the start we had to where we are we now. . . . I just cannot believe that we’re not going to get to the World Cup,” said Duffy after Ireland’s first defeat of the campaign.
It was hard in the dressing-room, you can imagine. A lot of heads in hands - proud players who want to win for their country but it just didn’t happen.Shane Duffy
“It’s the way we do it, though. I think it happened the last time around (in the Euro 2012 qualification campaign) when it looked like it would be Scotland.
“We’re as disappointed as everyone and it was hard to take tonight. It was hard in the dressing-room, you can imagine. A lot of heads in hands - proud players who want to win for their country but it just didn’t happen.
“He (Martin O’Neill) is trying to pick us and telling us that he’s is 100 per cent confident and we always knew it would probably go down to the last game and we rise to big occasions.
“We did tonight, played well, just didn’t get the right result. Just one of those things but he believes that we’ll get there. We believe it and so we have to keep going.”