WORLD CUP: Preparation over passion for Northern Ireland captain

Northern Ireland captain Steven Davis.
Northern Ireland captain Steven Davis.

Planning over passion will prove key to Northern Ireland’s chances of World Cup progress according to captain Steven Davis.

Davis will lead out Northern Ireland tonight into a sea of noise and colour created by the celebrated Green And White Army fanbase.

But the midfield ace appreciates the value of acquired knowledge in advance of events over the next two 90-minute meetings.

“We’ve done a lot of homework on the Swiss, Michael O’Neill is always well-prepared,” said Davis. “As soon as we got in he had little paper booklets made up of them with information.

“We will have specific meetings looking at their strengths and weaknesses.

“We will know every detail we need to know and be ready for kick-off.

“We get information on every single player in their squad and we will watch video analysis on them on how they attack and defend in certain situations.

“It’s a new experience for us all playing in a huge game for your country in a game of this importance.

“You can’t tell about the ‘home or away first’ question until the game is played.

“The biggest thing is that even if we don’t get the result we want in the first game we must keep our head, stay calm and realise there is time for us to achieve what we want.”

Danny Laffery is also keen to call on the rewards from research.

“I think possibly we’re better prepared,” said Lafferty. “They’ve got players scattered all over Europe and have just finished their club football on Saturday or Sunday and gathered in Switzerland from all over Europe.

“They’ve had two days’ training behind them before flying to Northern Ireland to stay a night here and play a game here.

“Whereas we’ve been together since Sunday afternoon, so we’re probably in a more well-equipped position as regards preparation in comparison to them.

“We’ve also read quotes from their manager (Vladimir Petković) who said stuff in the media that ideally he’d like to be preparing for a friendly this time as they’re still hurting from not qualifying and complaining about FIFA staging the game on a Thursday which didn’t help their preparation.

“So I suppose that’s kind of positives in our favour.

“There’s been meetings and doing work on Switzerland but we’ve been treating it like we’ve treated the previous 10 games in the group.

“Michael always gets his point across in the lead up to the games, the way he prepares us, how he sets the team up and how he wants us to play and knowing what we’re good at and what the opposition aren’t so good at and try to exploit that.”