Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 27 December 2014

Luis Suarez can put wasteful Northern Ireland to the sword

Telegraph Sport: where the debate starts

Right on: Luis Suarez points to his boot after scoring at Anfield
Right on: Luis Suarez points to his boot after scoring at Anfield

Alan Mannus and Roy Carroll. We salute you. Had it not been for Northern Ireland's goalkeepers and some wayward Cyprus finishing, Michael O'Neill's side would have suffered another embarrassing defeat on Wednesday.

Thankfully the Cypriot strikers left their shooting boots at home and on the rare occasions they hit the target Mannus, in the first half, and Carroll, in the second, made decent saves to earn a 0-0 draw.

Sometimes scoreless draws can be deceiving.

In terms of Northern Ireland's midfielders and strikers this one wasn't, because most of them were about as useful as a chocolate fireguard creating just one clear chance against poor opposition.

Defensively though the result did NOT tell the true tale because for most of the match the back four were as shaky as Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge, on a stormy day, allowing the Cypriots to carve out numerous opportunities before missing them.

Northern Ireland's next opponents are Uruguay in Montevideo on May 30 when somehow I can't see Luis Suarez being so wasteful.

The Liverpool striker and his buddies will be out to put on a show for their fans ahead of the World Cup finals, to show that they have a chance of winning the thing in Brazil, just as they did 64 years ago. (Look it up).

If Northern Ireland play as they did in Nicosia I fear for the outcome. Perhaps O'Neill should ask countryman Brendan Rodgers to tell Luis to take it easy on us, or ask the referee if he can use both Mannus and Carroll in goal at the same time!

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