• 'When you put that green jersey on, you have to be proud'
• Ireland must win in Austria and rely on other results
Robbie Keane spat the words out. "If the players can't get themselves up for this game on Tuesday, then there is a big problem," he said. "A massive problem. All right." And with that, the Republic of Ireland's captain ducked his shoulder and darted off.
Keane was steaming. The eyes blazed and it felt like a mercy that the brief post-match interview did not descend into argument. He looked like he was in the mood for one. Keane takes defeat badly – all of the top players do – but Friday night's at home to Sweden cut him to the core. He talked of heartbreak and he did not need to add that, at 33, he is unlikely to get another shot at the World Cup.
Keane had just left the Ireland dressing-room and it was easy to imagine that harsh words had been exchanged. For 30 minutes of the vital qualifying tie, Ireland had been vibrant. Keane plundered his 60th international goal and the team were set fair. Yet they loosened their grip. Sweden wrested back the initiative, scored twice and, long before the end, Ireland had run aground.
Their deficiencies were plain. Technically, they lack the ability to prise opponents apart while their game management was open to question. The worst thing, seemingly, that this team can do is to score. It is often downhill after that. There were individual errors, bad decisions and players went missing. It all added up to the battle fatigue that Ireland are feeling with the national set-up and the manager, Giovanni Trapattoni.
Ireland travel to Austria for Tuesday night's tie knowing victory is essential but that they also need favours from elsewhere. For a start, they want Kazakhstan to take something from Sweden in Astana. It is not impossible. Kazakhstan drew 0-0 at home with Austria while they were unlucky to lose 2-1 there to Ireland. If Zlatan Ibrahimovic plays like he did in Dublin, however, Sweden will be fine and the Group C play-off spot will be theirs.
Keane raged against the dying of the light. "As a player, you wouldn't be stupid enough to say it's finished now because it's not," he said.
"Of course it's going to be difficult but we have to believe we have a fighting chance. When you put that green jersey on, you have to be proud and put some pride back into it. That's what we'll be doing on Tuesday."
Ibrahimovic was uncharacteristically diplomatic, after what he described as "more of a war than a game". Ireland were not yet finished, the Sweden captain said. There were three ties to play and "everything can happen". But Ireland will only prosper if he fails and Ibrahimovic has no intention of failing.
"I have to think about myself ... I cannot think about Ireland," he said. "I want to go to the World Cup. Let's hope I play, for myself. We'll focus on the next game, which is Kazakhstan away. The play-offs are not even in my mind. If you make mistakes, it will cost you."
Trapattoni's contract will not be renewed for the Euro 2016 campaign and the question now concerns when he will depart. If, indeed, it is goodnight in Vienna, the Football Association of Ireland might consider his immediate removal, having balanced a potential pay-off against losses in home gate revenues. Crowds for meaningless fixtures would be low with Trapattoni in charge.
The 74-year-old's achievements since his appointment in 2008 have been admirable. He took Ireland to Euro 2012 while he and the squad were cruelly denied by France at the 2010 World Cup play-off. He has introduced young talents, including Seamus Coleman, James McCarthy, James McClean, Shane Long and Robbie Brady.
"There are loads of positives there," the goalkeeper, David Forde, said. "People are screaming to bring in this or that [player] but you can't just throw them in. You've got to blood them and it takes time. What the manager has done for the country and the team has been fantastic. He still gets bit of a raw deal."
Trapattoni hopes that the emotion of Friday can inspire the response against Austria.