O’Neill bemoans lack of luck
Northern Ireland manager Michael O’Neill has bemoaned his side’s luck after they were handed a tough Euro 2020 qualifying draw.
The Green and White Army’s chances of making it through to the European Championship finals for the second successive tournament have been dealt a blow as they have been drawn in the same group as both the Netherlands and Germany.
Group C is completed by Estonia and Belarus, but Northern Ireland will face a tough task in finishing in the top two of the group, which, given the fact they were relegated from the second tier of the UEFA Nations League, is the only way they will be able to qualify for the finals.
O’Neill’s side can consider themselves a little unfortunate in the way they ended up in the group, as the Republic of Ireland had been drawn out third from pot three, but they could not go into the same group as the Netherlands and Germany, as three hosts for Euro 2020 could not be placed in the same group.
That meant, Northern Ireland, as the fourth team drawn from pot three, were placed into that section and O’Neill has admitted that was a bitter pill to swallow.
‘To be drawn with Germany and Holland is extremely difficult. The nature of how we ended up in that group [not being a host nation for Euro 2020] is a hard one to take,’ the 49-year-old was quoted as saying by Sky Sports.
‘But the conditions of the draw were made before the draw. That is how UEFA have put it together.’
O’Neill did try and take some positives from the draw and he pointed to Northern Ireland’s impressive home record as a reason for his side to remain optimistic and punters may well consider using their free bet to back the Green and White Army to cause at least one major surprise.
‘Being in a group of five will help us given our resources,’ he added. ‘We have to do as well as we can. There is no reason why we can’t beat even the biggest teams in Europe in Belfast.’