Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 24 April 2014

Top spot still Republic's aim: Andrews

Republic of Ireland midfielder Keith Andrews has revealed excitement is mounting at the prospect of qualifying for next summer's World Cup finals.

Andrews and his team-mates took a significant step towards South Africa with the 2-1 Group Eight victory in Cyprus, although they know there is much work to be done before they can start thinking about a return to the big stage.

But while experienced manager Giovanni Trapattoni was at pains to keep feet firmly on the ground after the game, there is a growing sense of anticipation inside as well as outside the dressing room.

Andrews said: “We have touched on it in the preparations and it's not a million miles away. We have got the first result under our belts.”

Victory in Nicosia, courtesy of skipper Robbie Keane's 83rd-minute header, ensured the Republic remain only a point adrift of leaders Italy and five clear of third-placed Bulgaria who are in Turin on Wednesday night.

What happens there could have a significant say in the ultimate destiny of the group.

The world champions remain favourites to clinch the one automatic qualification spot, while Trapattoni's men are in the box seat for second place and a play-off berth.

But that is far from the limit of their ambition with first place still up for grabs.

Andrews said: “That's our aim. If we fall short, then we fall short, but we are aiming for that spot and hopefully we can get it.”

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