Northern Ireland manager Michael O’Neill insisted he would pay no attention to Wales’ match against Hungary on Tuesday night even though it could determine his side’s fate in the Euro 2020 qualifying play-offs.
Northern Ireland will be playing Germany in Frankfurt at the same time but – though that game is effectively a dead rubber now with Germany through and Northern Ireland out of contention – O’Neill will not allow his thoughts to drift elsewhere.
“We’ll not be thinking too much about Wales and Hungary,” he said. “It’s things that are out of your control.
🎥 "You always want a performance to end on."— Northern Ireland (@NorthernIreland) November 18, 2019
“We’ll be too busy with what’s going to happen out there on the pitch to be worried what’s happening in Cardiff.”
But the result could be of huge significance to Northern Ireland’s hopes of reaching next summer’s finals.
As it stands, the Green and White Army look likely to face Bosnia and Herzegovina away from home on March 26.
But, if Hungary can beat Wales on Tuesday to qualify automatically, Northern Ireland could yet get a home fixture.
That will all be determined at Friday’s draw in Nyon.
A home game would give O’Neill a second Windsor Park farewell after his appointment as Stoke boss, though it remains more likely they will be on the road.
“Ideally if your first play-off game was a home game, that’s certainly an advantage, there’s no doubt about that,” he said.
“But for us it’s about the level of performance, replicating that.
“You come into these scenarios, home to Holland, away to Germany – is there a more difficult double-
header you could have?
“Having come through these two games, we’ll be ready to play a double-header, regardless of the situation come March.”
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