Packie Bonner: Why Ireland "need another 5 or 10% in us to qualify" for the World Cup

Ireland goalkeeping legend chats to Team 33's Raf Diallo as the 2018 qualifying campaign begins

Packie Bonner

Packie Bonner ©INPHO/Cathal Noonan

Packie Bonner believes Ireland will need to add something extra to qualify for the 2018 World Cup.

Unlike Euro 2016 which had 24 teams, there are fewer places for European sides to avail of for the global showpiece tournament which means the margin of error is lessened.

The Boys in Green kick of the qualifying campaign tonight against Serbia in Belgrade with avoiding defeat paramount.

Speaking to Newstalk's Team 33 as part of a more in-depth chat about his career and thoughts on the game, Bonner feels getting at least a point in Belgrade is the perfect launchpad in an evenly-balanced group which also features Austria and Wales.

"Tonight is about getting a result. A draw would be a great result. Not getting beaten in that first game, it keeps that whole momentum going. If you get beaten in that first game, you're under that bit more pressure," he said.

"When you look at the teams in there, Austria didn't perform in the European Championships but they're a good team - Alaba, Arnautovic, who's got quality, Harnik - then you look at what Wales have done. I was watching them and [fellow UEFA Euro 2016 technical observer] Ian Rush was behind me and he was supporting Ireland one minute and Wales the next minute and likewise, we were doing the same. And when you look at the quality, there's Bale, Joe Allen, Ramsey, Williams. Chris Coleman has done a remarkable job with them, so it will be interesting. But they'll be under pressure too because they have to win games."  

Bonner also hopes to see Ireland build on the better performances from the last Euros campaign.

"Qualifying for the World Cup is so much more difficult. That's the real test because you've got one team, another into the playoffs and there's no third place. You have to perform and yes, you have to have a bit of luck and we had some luck last time. But we had some great performances against Germany at home. We have to really now build on those successes and see if we can kick on a wee bit more because we need another 5 or 10% in us to qualify. We're capable of doing it. We're capable of beating Wales, capable of beating Serbia - especially at home - and Austria and they're all capable of beating each other and we can capitalise on that. And it's good to see a young group of players coming through. The young guys now have to step up now."

Bonner was speaking to Newstalk's Team 33 as part of Celtic: The Musical which will run at the Gaiety Theatre from September 20-24th. It tells the story of the club, including its strong ties to Ireland from its early inception to the modern era. Click here for ticket details.

The full Newstalk interview will be broadcast on Tuesday with stories from his career with Celtic, goalkeeping, Joe Hart-Pep Guardiola, Jim McGuinness and much, much more.