FIFA World Cup Qualifying Preview: Austria v Republic of Ireland
By Football News
The Republic of Ireland travel to Austria on Tuesday for a potentially crucial game in the race for a FIFA World Cup play-off spot.
Both sides are currently level on 11 points in Group C of the European qualification section, three points behind second-placed Sweden, who came away with a hard-fought 2-1 victory over Giovanni Trapattoni's side in Dublin on Friday.
Austria, meanwhile, go into the game in Vienna off the back of a 3-0 defeat to runaway pool leaders Germany.
A place in the play-off round for Brazil 2014 is still possible for both sides, but both need three points from the clash at the Ernst-Happel-Stadion to keep their hopes of catching Sweden alive.
Ireland defender Richard Dunne, who returned to the side for the first time since last year's UEFA European Championships in the defeat to Erik Hamren's men, admitted qualification is now looking difficult.
"It's a big blow to lose. We know we needed four points from the next two games," he told Sky Sports after the Sweden game.
"It's going to be difficult but we have to believe."
Ireland's task will be made all the more difficult by the fact that they have not won a competitive fixture in Austria since 1958, but Marcel Koller's men had to rely on a late David Alaba equaliser to secure a 2-2 draw in the reverse fixture in Dublin in March.