Adam Idah is refusing to throw in the towel on the Republic of Ireland’s seemingly forlorn hopes of World Cup qualification.
Saturday’s evening’s 1-1 draw with Azerbaijan at the Aviva Stadium finally opened Ireland’s Group A account, but with Tuesday night’s opponents Serbia and Portugal both nine points better off at the halfway stage, they have only a mathematical chance of making it to Qatar.
However, 20-year-old Norwich striker Idah will not give up on the dream while it remains even a slim possibility.
Asked if the campaign was effectively over, he said: “No, no chance.
“We believed in ourselves as a team from the start when we came in and we still 100 per cent believe we can qualify for this. That’s our main target, to qualify for the World Cup, and that’s what we’re going to do.
“We’re going to fight to the end. We’re hungry to get more points and that’s what we’re going to do.
“Look, obviously it’s quite frustrating where we are now, but we’re still building as a team, we’re still learning and we just have to take each game as it comes.
“No-one knows what happens in football, it changes all the time. We’re just going to go out and do the best we can and try to get as many points as we can and who knows what can happen?”
Idah’s commitment to the cause is commendable, but in the cold light of day, he and his team-mates were teetering on the precipice after Wednesday night’s desperately unfortunate defeat in Portugal and were nudged over it by Azerbaijan.
Even Shane Duffy’s late equaliser could not paper over the cracks of a campaign which has at times shown signs of promise, but also highlighted how far the Republic have slipped since they made it to the finals of both Euro 2012 and 2016.
Stephen Kenny’s squad is one in transition – Saturday’s starting frontline of Idah, Troy Parrott and Aaron Connolly had a combined age of 60 – but it is yet to win a competitive game in 11 attempts under his charge.
Asked about the pressure of trying to provide the goals to end that run at such a tender age, Idah said: “We all play football, that’s our job. We grew up wanting to do this and if you’re under pressure doing this, then you shouldn’t be here. These are the moments we’ve all been waiting for.
“Obviously we have little experience, but how else do you get experience than times like these? These are the opportunities that we’ve got to take and we’ve got to learn from.
“We keep building as a team, keep building as young players and I’m sure it will all work out in the long run.
“Look, we obviously know that we need to win games and that’s what we want to do as footballers, but it is quite a new squad, it does take time to build. There are still a lot of games to come and we’ll try to prove people wrong.”