Seamus Coleman had already accepted the Republic of Ireland would have to beat either Switzerland or Denmark to qualify for the Euro 2020 finals before it became a mathematical certainty.
Ireland’s 0-0 draw in Georgia on Saturday evening and the Danes’ 1-0 victory over the Swiss in Copenhagen left the two sides level at the top of Group D, with Switzerland four points behind but having played a game fewer.
But as they set off from Tbilisi ahead of Tuesday’s trip to Geneva, skipper Coleman was in bullish mood with a win either over the Swiss or against Denmark in Dublin next month enough to guarantee automatic qualification.
He said: “I do think we’re capable of a big result, I’ve always said that. Over the last few years, we’ve proven that bar that bad year last year, we are capable of big results.
“We have to go for it anyway Tuesday night. We won’t be sitting back – the game might dictate that you might sit back, but we’ll be going there looking for the win.”
That is exactly the approach Mick McCarthy’s men insisted they were adopting before the game at the Boris Paichadze Arena, but they found themselves on the back foot for long periods as Georgia dominated possession without creating clear-cut chances.
Ireland might have won it through a first-half John Egan header which came back off the post, and from two later chances for 19-year-old substitute Aaron Connolly, who lit up the game’s dying moments on his senior debut.
However, Coleman was pragmatic when asked if two points had slipped from their grasp.
He said: “Ah look, we wanted to win the game, but then you come back in and you realise you got a point, you got a clean sheet and we’re capable of a big result.
“Ideally, we would have liked three points, but it wasn’t to be.”
Tuesday night’s game looks even bigger as a result of what happened in Tbilisi, where Denmark were also held to a 0-0 draw last month, although Coleman is not convinced.
He said: “Well, it does and it doesn’t. You go into the game wanting to win and that won’t change because of tonight’s result.
“We always want to win the game – playing for draws and stuff like that is dangerous anyway, so we always go out and try to win a game and Tuesday night will be no different.
“Look, we’re going to play a top team, but I believe in the lads and if we can be a little bit more composed, we can get a result.”
If there was an element of disappointment on the final whistle in Georgia, there was also a frisson of excitement at Connolly’s impressive cameo.
Coleman said: “He stretched them, he looked confident, he had a couple of chances – not clear-cut chances by any means, but he’s dangerous.
“He’s a good lad, he’s got that quiet confidence as well. Without putting too much pressure on him, we’re delighted to have him and hopefully he can have a big future for us.”