Michael O’Neill has urged his players to “show courage” as they look to ignite their World Cup campaign.
Northern Ireland are preparing for a must-win qualifier against Azerbaijan where victory is the only target for the home side.
Three points at Windsor Park will give Northern Ireland a significant lift as they enter the festive break.
Defeat – or even a draw – against Bertie Vogts’ visitors and any hint of a revival will be washed away in the Belfast rain.
O’Neill is under no illusions as his side prepares for the challenge of Azerbaijan.
The pitfalls are evident, but the rookie international boss is confident his players can handle the expectation and pressure.
“We have shown we are very good when we haven’t had a lot of possession,” he said.
“Look at Celtic beating Barcelona with very little possession. You can win games when the odds are against you.
“When we do have possession, we can be creative and have to maximise it. We need to show courage, be prepared to take the ball and deal with periods in the game that aren’t going your way.
“That’s when you’re tested and that’s how this team has to grow, to deal with the lulls and regain control. The belief is there. We have senior players like Steve Davis, Chris Baird, Aaron Hughes, Kyle Lafferty – who have been here before.”
Back in September Luxembourg came to Belfast and claimed a late draw to inflict a massive dent in O’Neill’s World Cup plans.
O’Neill hopes they can exorcise some demons and claim what would be a first win for the new Northern Ireland boss.
“There have always been nights where we’ve been expected to get results and it hasn’t happened. I don’t dwell on it,” he added.
“I’ve had three home games, drawn two and lost one. We look at the two draws and feel we should have won them.
“We got anxious against Luxembourg and I hope I don’t see that again.”