Northern Ireland: Michael O’Neill and Steven Davis ready for tough EURO 2020 qualifying campaign

Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill at the EURO 2020 draw. Pic by INPHO.
Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill at the EURO 2020 draw. Pic by INPHO.
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Northern Ireland manager Michael O’Neill issued a rally cry to the Green And White Army in the aftermath of the EURO 2020 qualifying draw.

Three-time winners Germany and ever-improving the Netherlands will serve demanding tests for Northern Ireland over the Group C path towards the main event.

Estonia and Belarus also feature and O’Neill is hoping for home comfort to help Northern Ireland’s chances of a second successive European Championships finals appearance.

“It’s probably the most difficult group,” said O’Neill following the draw in Dublin. “We’re going to have to have a couple of massive nights in Belfast to give ourselves a chance of qualification.”

Northern Ireland captain Steven Davis was defiant and determined to “give it a right good go” despite the demands of the fixture list.

“Of course it is going to be tough but we will give it a right good go,” said Davis on the Irish FA website. “We have plenty to build on. We will have to put ourselves in amongst it early on. I think we can cause a few upsets.

“We know all about Germany and have seen them at close quarters in recent years. Their performances in the Nations League show that you can get at them. We have always taken positives from our games against them. We just have to impose ourselves a bit more against them.

“In terms of the Dutch, Ronald Koeman has them playing really well. They are full of confidence and have momentum and belief.

“They will have good quality and good technical ability. We will need to pick up maximum points against them,” he added.

The EURO 2020 finals will be spread across 12 cities over 11 countries. As a result, UEFA imposed a limit to two ‘host nations’ in each qualification group.

The full list of Northern Ireland’s EURO 2020 qualifying fixtures:

Northern Ireland fixtures: Thursday, March 21 v Estonia (home); Sunday, March 24 v Belarus (home); Saturday, June 8 v Estonia (away); Tuesday, June 11 v Belarus (away); Monday, September 9 v Germany (home); Thursday, October 10 v Netherlands (away); Saturday, November 16 v Netherlands (home); Tuesday, November 19 v Germany (away).