Economy

O'Neill laments cruel end to Northern Ireland's World Cup hopes

O'Neill laments cruel end to Northern Ireland's World Cup hopes

The curtain may have come down on one of the most successful eras in the country's history following Sunday's 0-0 draw with Switzerland, which was enough for the Swiss to win the play-off by virtue of the 1-0 first leg victory at Windsor Park.

Zlatko Dalic's men will be playing in their fifth World Cup in Russian Federation next year, having only once failed to qualify in 2010."We had a good match in Zagreb but it was hard here".

The only two spots in Europe left will go to either Sweden or Italy and Denmark or Ireland.

"It was a tough match for us".

"I speak for everyone by saying we'd love him to stay and how important he is for us", said the Southampton midfielder, as quoted by the Scottish Sun.

Greece coach Michael Skibbe dropped half of his players from the disastrous first-leg showing in Zagreb, and the return of Roma defender Kostas Manolas kept Croatia striker Nikola Kalinic in check.

"But from a football point of view, Michael's first thought is to defend and he has Premier League defenders in the Northern Ireland squad".

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But the visitors almost put the tie to bed when a left-footed blast by Inter Milan winger Ivan Perisic hit the post in the 43rd minute, after Barcelona midfielder Ivan Rakitic had earlier curled a free-kick over the crossbar.

"We're missing out on the chance to go to the World Cup".

Speaking to the BBC, Boyd said: "I think Michael O'Neill has done a fantastic job with Northern Ireland".

"It's about being with my players, spending time with them and making sure they are okay". "If it wasn't for the penalty we'd be playing extra time. The players are devastated but I couldn't be any prouder".

O'Neill's future is uncertain after the Green and White Army failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup this week.

"He's probably got more chance of qualifying with Northern Ireland than he has with Scotland", Sanchez told talkSPORT.

A number of club sides, including Rangers, are also said to be monitoring the man who led Northern Ireland to a maiden European Championships in 2016, and it is understood the right club project would be the preferred choice should he leave his current job.


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