WORLD CUP: Northern Ireland manager Michael O’Neill sure penalty decision will motivate players

Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill during Saturday nights training session at St. Jakob-Park ahead of Sunday nights World Cup Play Off against Switzerland in Basel.
Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill during Saturday nights training session at St. Jakob-Park ahead of Sunday nights World Cup Play Off against Switzerland in Basel.

Michael O’Neill insists his players will use last Thursday night’s penalty decision as ‘motivation’ when

they face Switzerland in the second leg of their World Cup qualifier in Basel.

The Northern Ireland boss admitted his players could have performed better at Windsor Park as Ricardo Rodriguez’s spot-kick separated the sides.

“There’s a lot of emotion in the dressing room after the game which is natural,” O’Neill said.

“It’ gone now and the team have spent the majority of the time since the game recovering.

“We’ve watched the game back and looked at where we can be better.

“I think we have to be better in possession than we were. We have to put more pressure on Switzerland than we did. We didn’t press the ball as well as we could have done.

“Credit to Switzerland as I thought they played well, but we know we can be better.

“The focus is on trying to get the result that could take us through, rather than dwell on the penalty decision.”

O’Neill will be without the services of Corry Evans through suspension, but stressed his preparations weren’t interrupted after the tweet sent out by his wife, Lisa.

“It’s not had an effect on the preparations,” O’Neill revealed.

“Corry issued a statement of apology straight away, so we don’t need to get into the nature of the tweet.

“We’re talking about a player who is suspended and can’t play.

“Corry’s done everything he can and he’s apologised, so it’s not something we need to address any further.”

O’Neill believes his players haven’t lost any confidence after three successive defeats in a row.

“I don’t think we have lost any confidence,” O’Neill confessed.

“We have to recognise that we've played the world champions and had a difficult game in Norway with lot of players on yellow cards.

“Those two games have no bearing on where we are.

“On Thursday, the level of our performance could have been higher.

“There's still a lot of confidence and belief that they’re capable of coming here and making things different and hopefully we get the result that we are after.”