Republic of Ireland boss Martin O’Neill remains confident his side can snatch a place in the second round of Euro 2016 by beating Italy on Wednesday.
Having drawn 1-1 with Sweden on matchday one, Ireland were dispatched 3-0 by Belgium in Bordeaux to leave them bottom of Group E on goal difference, meaning they require a win and the Swedes to drop points if they are to have a realistic shot at the last 16.
The omens do not favour O’Neill: Ireland are now seven games without a win in European Championship finals, a run stretching back to 1988, and they have never managed to score more than once in a single match at the tournament.
But the 64-year-old insists his players must believe in their chances of causing an upset against Italy in Lille and of giving themselves a chance of qualifying as one of the best third-placed teams.
“I always said from the outset that we would have to win a game in the competition to give ourselves a proper chance of going through to the next round of the tournament, and that is still the case,” he said.
“Obviously there is disappointment immediately after the game because we were upbeat going into the match following the performance against Sweden.
“But now we have a really great game against Italy to look forward to, to put our immediate disappointment to the side, and if we can win this game we give ourselves an incredible chance of qualification.”