Northern Ireland switch focus back to game after penalty row

Soccer Football - Premier League - West Ham United vs Brighton & Hove Albion - London Stadium, London, Britain - October 20, 2017 REUTERS/David Klein

“There was a lot of emotion in the dress room after the game, which is natural, but it is gone now. The team has spent the majority of the time since the game in terms of recovery, we have watched the game back, and we have looked at aspects of just our playing where we can be better. What happened in the game, as I say, we have to take motivation from that, but it is gone now in terms of whereas it is in the players’ mind and the focus is on trying to get the result that obviously can take us through.”

12. JOURNALIST

13. (SOUNDBITE) (English) NORTHERN IRELAND COACH MICHAEL O’NEILL SAYING:

“We have to do better in possession than we were, and I think we have to put more pressure on Switzerland than we did. We didn’t press the ball as well as we could have done, as I said, we watched the game last night, the players certainly saw that and agreed with that, and we know we can play better, you know. Sometimes we have to give credit to Switzerland, I thought they played very well on that night as well, but we know that we can play a lot better than that, and the fact that there is this goal and there is 1-0, and we still have a lot to play for, gives us hope that a better performance can hopefully give us the right result.”

14. JOURNALISTS

15. (SOUNDBITE) (English) NORTHERN IRELAND’S MIDFIELDER AND CAPTAIN STEVEN DAVIS SAYING:

“Listen. We are in a position where all the pressure is on Switzerland. We have nothing to lose, so we have got to try and use that to our advantage. I think possibly looking back at the game the other night, at times we were a little bit cautious, so we have just got to get the balance a bit better, we have got to be braver obviously in possession with all the balls as well, in terms of our pressing. But of course it is evenly balanced though at this point, a lot can happen in the 90 minutes. So we have got to try and approach the game that way.”

30. (SOUNDBITE) (German) SWITZERLAND’S COACH VLADIMIR PETKOVIC SAYING: (OFFICIAL TRANSLATION)

“We have to earn it ourselves, we have to deserve the qualification. It was just the first leg, 90 minutes were played, it is just the first step. But it is going to be a more difficult match tomorrow for sure, if we look at the way Northern Ireland played, the played from the first until the 90th minute, they played the same football during all the game, but sometimes with surprises, and if we look at the first match, if we step back a little bit, each time we were easing the pressure a bit, they became dangerous immediately, so we will have to take care of that and we have a lot of respect for tomorrow’s match.”

31. JOURNALISTS

32. (SOUNDBITE) (German) SWITZERLAND MIDFIELDER GRANIT XHAKA SAYING: (OFFICIAL TRANSLATION)

“I don’t know why it is such a bit topic, why there is so much discussion about it (the penalty), we should leave this discussion behind. I think we definitely were the best team, as was mentioned before, and we want to show that again tomorrow, and qualify for the World Cup in Russia. I think we are a good team, I think we might be a better team compared to Northern Ireland, and tomorrow, we want to make all the fans that we have here and who support us proud of us by qualifying for Russia.”

33. BALL

STORY: Northern Ireland will concentrate on improving their passing and pressing when they face Switzerland in the second leg of their World Cup playoff on Sunday (November 12) rather than dwelling on the controversial penalty that led to their defeat in the first match.

Switzerland brought a 1-0 win back from Belfast thanks to the penalty, awarded for handball by Corry Evans after he blocked Xherdan Shaqiri’s acrobatic volley at point-blank range, leaving them as firm favourites to progress on Sunday.

The decision incensed Northern Ireland as Evans had his back to the ball and it seemed impossible for him to get out of the way.

Following a run of five successive wins without conceding a goal, Northern Ireland have lost their last three games but O’Neill denied they had gone off the boil just as they attempt to reach their first World Cup finals since 1986.

Petkovic warned his side that they could not afford to let up on Sunday.

Sharing is caring!

Next page

Mareeg senior news editor since 2001 and he can be reached at news@mareeg.com