Ray Houghton believes the Republic of Ireland can be a force in a "wide open" Group A as long as they can get past Luxembourg in their World Cup qualifier clash in Dublin on Saturday night. 

Stephen Kenny is still waiting on his first win as manager nine games into his tenure but Wednesday night's 3-2 loss to Serbia was not without positives.

Serbia take on Portugal in the group's other qualifier on Saturday, and Houghton is hopeful the Boys in Green can notch three points to get their campaign up and running. 

"As a nation and sports fans, we have to get behind Stephen and the team at the moment because it is tough," he told RTÉ's Morning Ireland.

"To go as long as they have without a victory is very tough for the players.

"This game is a must-win. If we're going to do decent in this group we can't afford anything but a win against Luxembourg. They are probably the weakest team in the group, we are expected to win, but going into it we're low on confidence. 

"It could be tough but Stephen just has to get the team selection right, get the fittest players out there and hopefully they can drive us to victory."

Ireland are third seeds in a group that also includes Azerbaijan, but Houghton says they should not be overawed by their rivals.  

"I wasn't overly impressed with Serbia," he added. "I thought they were there for the taking. Defensively they were quite poor, I thought their goalkeeper was awful to be honest with you, we didn't punish him or get enough balls into the box to put him under pressure.

"Portugal only beat Azerbaijan 1-0 and that was an own goal. I think they're an older team, an ageing team. I think this group is wide open, we just have to get a win.

"It's just how fit the [Ireland] players are going to be because when you look at our squad, there's a lot of players who haven't got a lot of game time, a lot of them have been on the benches for their [clubs].

"As the aggressors tomorrow evening we have got to take the game to Luxembourg, and show we've got the guile and craft in the forward areas to open up a Luxembourg side that I imagine are going to sit deep and try to frustrate us."

Follow Republic of Ireland v Luxembourg via our live blog on RTÉ.ie/sport and RTÉ News app, watch live on RTÉ2 and the RTÉ Player or listen to commentary on RTÉ Radio 1 from 7pm