Keane relishing Inter date with destiny

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The Independent Online

Robbie Keane will make his San Siro debut for Internazionale tonight only too aware of the huge pressure on him to help the Italian giants through to the first group stage of the lucrative Champions' League.

Robbie Keane will make his San Siro debut for Internazionale tonight only too aware of the huge pressure on him to help the Italian giants through to the first group stage of the lucrative Champions' League.

With Ronaldo and Christian Vieri still long-term injury victims and Uruguay's Alvaro Recoba and Chile's Ivan Zamorano trying to shrug off nagging problems, the 20-year-old Irishman will team up with the Turkish international Hakan Sukur to try and overturn a 1-0 first leg deficit to Helsingborg of Sweden.

"I know it will be a tough match," said Keane, a £13m summer signing from Coventry. "But I also know our destiny is in our own hands.

"Sure elimination would be a disaster from every point of view, but right now I don't want to think negatively. We must go on to the field with a positive frame of mind."

Having failed to score in Sweden, Inter will need their supporters to be patient as they attempt to make their past the organised Swedes. "They are good, particularly in the midfield and in defence, because of their physical strength," Keane said. "They were impressive there [in Sweden], but we are a better team."

A defeat, however, and early elimination would have serious consequences for Inter's owners, who are acutely aware of the revenue they would lose if their team does not get through to the first round of group games.

The club have, meanwhile,denied reports that they have completed a deal to buy the Brazilian midfielder Vampeta from Corinthians for £9.5m.

Last year's European Cup finalists Valencia will also be hoping get through the qualification round when they meet the Austrians FC Tirol at home tonight. The two teams failed to score in the first leg in Innsbruck, but the Spaniards will be confident of victory bearing in mind that they have not lost at home in 20 European games since the 1992-93 season.

Red Star Belgrade and Dynamo Kiev also failed to break the deadlock first time around, but there will be as much tension off the field as on it for the second leg in Belgrade. The local police are on alert after clashing with the club's supporters for chanting slogans against the country's president, Slobodan Milosevic, during recent home games.

Porto, who trail the Belgian side Anderlecht by a single goal, will be looking to their Russian striker Dmitry Alenichev to provide the cutting edge.

Alenichev, who replaced the Brazilian Mario Jardel after he moved to Galatasaray over the summer, has scored in recent games against Benfica and Sporting Lisbon, but was far from impressive in the away leg.

The pressure is also on Anderlecht to maintain Belgium's interest in the competition. The 25-times Belgian league champions won five European titles between 1976 and 1983 but nothing since.

* Borussia Dortmund are close to signing the talented teenager Emmanuel Krontiris from Tennis Borussia Berlin. Krontiris has made 23 appearances for the German junior side and has attracted interest from Bayern Munich, Arsenal and Inter.

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