Still hope as NI fans set out for Basel and Swiss bid farewell

Members of the 12th Man NISC from Newtownabbey on an away trip
Members of the 12th Man NISC from Newtownabbey on an away trip

Most of the Northern Ireland fans travelling to Switzerland for the second leg of the World Cup qualifier on Sunday had an early start this morning.

Christopher Hamilton and five other members of The 12th Man NISC based in Newtownabbey left Belfast at 4am.

The 25-year-old estimates they will arrive in Basel at around 7pm tonight.

He said: “We’re getting a plane from Dublin to London, then another flight from London to Geneva. When we get to Switzerland we’ve a three-hour train journey to get to Basel.”

Christopher said he was trying to stay optimistic as he headed to the second leg: “Thursday night was disappointing. I think we underestimated Switzerland. The referee didn’t help.

“You have to be optimistic, but I do think we’ll struggle. We’ll probably need at least two goals.”

Meanwhile Swiss fans have paid tribute to their hosts after departing Belfast win a victory and vital away goal.

Lukas von Gunten, who travelled with three of his friends from Switzerland, told the News Letter: “It wasn’t a penalty, but a win is a win. We’ll see in Basel.

“We were in Lavery’s before the game. The atmosphere was very friendly and happy. The greens are a very happy party folk.

“But I think we will be happy after the next game.

“I’ve enjoyed the time here because Northern Ireland is a beautiful country and the people are very friendly.”