O’Neill praises team spirit

Date published: Saturday 13th June 2015 10:38

His comments came after watching his side play out a goalless draw with Group F leaders Romania in their European Championship qualifier at Windsor Park.

Though the game itself was far from being a classic, the battling qualities showed by Northern Ireland pleased O’Neill.

“I thought the players were magnificent in terms of how they went about the game today,” he said. “We created opportunities, mainly through a lot of set plays. It was a tense game, both teams were very resolute.

“Romania with their two holding midfielders made it difficult for us to play through midfield as well. We went longer a lot tonight but we got joy from that.

“It’s a big point for us, we’re maybe slightly disappointed we didn’t get more – we probably had the better chances, certainly in the second half. It sets us up nicely now for the double header in September.”

Northern Ireland travel to the Faroe Islands in their next qualifier before hosting third-placed Hungary a few days later and O’Neill feels the attitude his players showed against Romania will serve them well in those fixtures.

“What we have is an unbelievable spirit in that dressing room and a real togetherness,” he added. “

The desire not to be beaten tonight and to win the game was the most pleasing aspect tonight. Their attitude alone, if they maintain that attitude, is enough to get us to the finals.”

O’Neill singled out Kyle Lafferty for praise but insisted that it was a good all round team performance, albeit one they can improve on.

“There were some big performances – I thought Kyle was outstanding again in terms of his work rate and what he gave us at the top end of the pitch, Norwood, Davis and Baird were excellent again,” said the 45-year-old.

“We can play better than that, we can move the ball a bit better, our final ball into the box wasn’t as good as it could be but when we look back in October this might turn out to be a very important point.”

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