Giovanni Trapattoni is confident his Republic of Ireland side can make it through to the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™.

The Republic ended their Group 8 campaign with a disappointing home draw against Montenegro tonight, having already ensured their participation in next month's play-offs, to end the first stage of the mission unbeaten.

They will face one of the four seeded teams - now confirmed as France, Portugal, Russia and Greece - on 14 and 18 November with a huge prize at stake.

Trapattoni will not attend Monday's draw in Zurich, but he will not be afraid of whatever the outcome is. "This team can play against anyone if they have belief in our performance, our mentality and our plan," he said.

"We can go into the play-offs feeling confident and with belief if we play as we did against Italy on Saturday. We must believe. We have built this team and we can do it."

However, Trapattoni's much-changed side - he left out six of the men who started against Italy - were unable to find a way past Montenegro for the second time in the group.

And there was a major blow when Queens Park Rangers midfielder Martin Rowlands was carried off with a cruciate ligament injury which initial scans suggest is serious.

Trapattoni said: "It's a cruciate ligament injury and the scan looks serious. It's a pity because he has just rejoined the squad."

A key moment in the game came with 66 minutes gone when midfielder Simon Vukcevic skipped past challenges by Sean St Ledger and Richard Dunne and fired left-footed towards goal.

Shay Given, making his 100th appearance for his country, went down instinctively, but before he could make the save the ball had ricocheted off Paul McShane's arm, apparently not in the eye-line of Slovakian referee Vladimir Hrinak.

It was by no means the only chance the visitors had - Given saved Nikola Drincic's deflected long-range effort before the break and captain Branko Boskovic headed wastefully wide - in a game which more often than not lived up to its billing as a dead rubber.

Dunne might have won it for the home side with a 42nd-minute header which came back off the crossbar, but Montenegro goalkeeper Vukasin Poleksic was mostly under-employed.

Trapattoni said: "It's not always that you play very well, but we finished unbeaten and that must give us belief."

Opposite number Zoran Filipovic, who guided his side to their first competitive victory as an independent nation against Georgia on Saturday, was left to bemoan referee Hrinak's failure to spot McShane's handball.

He said: "We are a young nation and our luck with referees will change in qualifiers in the future. I do not wish to say anything about the penalty. It was a very hard game for both sides.

"We played in a beautiful stadium with a great atmosphere in front of the best fans in Europe, and the only shame is that there were no goals for them."

Trapattoni and his players will now await their fate in Monday's draw, although the 70-year-old coach is refusing to tempt fate by revealing his preferred choice of opponent. He said: "I believe in bad luck, so I don't want to jinx myself. I just want to win, and I don't care who we meet."