World Cup: Boss O'Neill pleased to miss Italy and Croatia as NI prepare for Switzerland

Northern Ireland boss Michael O'Neill
Northern Ireland boss Michael O'Neill

Northern Ireland boss Michael O'Neill has revealed he was pleased to miss out on drawing either Italy or Croatia in the World Cup play-offs.

NI will face Switzerland who were the highest-ranked nation in the draw and will be a stern test for O'Neill's side as they look to qualify for their first World Cup since 1986.

"We are pleased with the draw," he said. "We are pleased we missed Italy and Croatia in particular and Switzerland will be a formidable opponent but I do believe it is an opponent we can overcome.

"With the first leg at home, we have to take something from that and take a positive result to Switzerland. And with the second leg away, it gives you the benefit of an away goal and the consequences of that - it's going to be a very difficult game but one we are capable of winning over 180 minutes."

Croatia will play Greece, with Italy and Sweden drawn together in the most eye-catching of the play-off fixtures from an international standpoint.