Robbie Keane is convinced the Republic of Ireland can beat Italy and book their own trip to South Africa 2010, via qualifying Group Eight, at the expense of the reigning World champions.
The returning Spurs striker, who will shake off the after-effects of his first 90 minutes for some time to lead his country against Georgia at Croke Park tonight, knows three points will take them level with Marcello Lippi's side at the top of the table.
That could set up a major showdown between the two nations in Bari on April 1,
Keane said: "This is our best chance (of qualifying) since I have been involved in the Irish team.
"Obviously, we qualified for the World Cup in 2002 through a play-off. But this is our best chance to qualify straight. With the squad we have, there's no reason why we can’t do that.”