WORLD CUP: Northern Ireland’s Oliver Norwood confident Russia still within reach

Northern Irelands Oliver Norwood in action against Switzerland at Windsor Park

Northern Ireland midfielder Oliver Norwood still believes that the World Cup Finals in Russia next summer can be reached by beating Switzerland on Sunday.

The Swiss lead 1-0 from the first leg of the play-off at the International Stadium at Windsor Park on Thursday night.

A controversial penalty in the 58th minute sealed the vital win for the Swiss - but Norwood says his side can still get the job done.

“We have nothing to lose and it’s still all to play for. It’s half-time in the tie and we’re 1-0 down.

“We go away from home now and we’ll give it a right good go in Basel.

We’ve got to go again, pick ourselves up, regroup and go again in the second leg and give our all to reach the finals. It is not over yet.”

And the Fulham midfielder says he does not want to discuss the decision by referee Ovidiu Hategan to award Switzerland a penalty for handball after the ball had struck Corry Evans on the back.

“To be honest, I don’t really want to talk about it.

“It’s frustrating, but we’re still in the game, we’re still in the tie and we can’t let that affect us too much.

“Obviously it’s disappointing, but we’ll regroup and as we always do we’ll come back and give it a right good go in the second leg on Sunday.

“I didn’t think it was a penalty.

“When Shaqiri hit it, I don’t think anybody appealed.

“It is what it is and we don’t want to get into trouble for making comments.

“We’ll let you lot the media do that and write stories about it.

“As players it’s up to us to just deal with it and as I say, go again on Sunday.

Norwood says Northern Ireland were not at their best against the Swiss at Windsor Park and they could have done better.

“Yeah, but we knew they were a very good team.

“We tried to get after them early but they kept the ball well and didn’t give us a chance to really to do that.

“Maybe our set piece execution wasn’t as good as it’s been throughout the campaign.”

Striker Josh Magennis says the team know what they have to do in Basel tomorrow evening.

“Exactly, their manager has a decision whether to play the same or try to defend the lead, which is completely up to him.

“For us, we know we have to score, we have to win the game. We have to score more goals than them. The value of that is, if we do score one or two the away goal counts. Either way we have to win the game. That’s our way of looking at it.”

And would he have taken this scenario at the start of the campaign?

“Of course. If someone had said go to Switzerland and win the game and go off on your dream again, there’s no doubt about it. We’re going there to rock and roll.”

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