WORLD CUP PLAY-OFF: Swiss are under pressure says Jamie Ward
Northern Ireland's Jamie Ward is licking his lips in anticipation of taking on Switzerland in the play-offs for a place in the World Cup Finals in Russia next summer.
Ward and his NI team mates tackle the threat of the Swiss on Thursday night at the National Stadium at Windsor Park before the second leg in Basel on Sunday.
Ward says it would be great for their chances if they got a positive result on home soil.
“We’d love something heading over there. I think we’re strong at home and you’ve seen that over the last few years,” he said.
“If we play the way we can play, I don’t see why we can’t take a lead out there or at least a positive result.
“And at the end of the day, they’ve got to take their chances. Everyone is expecting them to win in the footballing world.
“They’re obviously the seeded team, so the pressure’s more on them than us.
“We’re always great as the underdogs, so I think it was a bit of a bonus us not being seeded.
“If you’re seeded, you get a little more pressure on yourself so we’ll go into this game as underdogs again. Hopefully we can be worthy winners.”
Ward says he will give his all even though he could miss the second leg if he picks up another yellow card.
“It’s 180 minutes and we’ve got to do what’s right. If there’s a tackle to be made and you think you can get there, you’ve got to go for it.
“If you don’t, tough luck, it’s just one of those things. I’m on a yellow card, but what will be will be and hopefully it doesn’t impact the team too much.
“My booking must have been early. I’ve only played four games! I’ve not played for six months.
“I think I’ve had it from the Czech Republic game – the first qualifier.
“I’ve been on a yellow card for 14 months. It’s been a long time, but it’s life.
“That’s why we’ve got a squad.”
Ward paid tribute to Steven Davis as the NI skipper will win his 100th cap against the Swiss tomorrow night.
“As a leader, he’s brilliant and obviously as a player, he’s very good. His career speaks for itself.
“Congratulations to him because he has worked hard for it.
“He’s obviously always wanted to play for NI from a young age, so it’s a big bonus for him.
“Hopefully on the night, we can make it a special occasion for him as a group of players.
“We were at Villa together – Davo was a year above me from when I left school.
“We had a few years together and you could see he had talent.
“It’s a great achievement and he’ll go on and get many more. It’s a great record,” added Ward.