Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 1 October 2014

Fans cautious over qualification despite Northern Ireland win

The Northern Ireland fans may often see their heroes suffer a bout of travel sickness, but they know they can rely on their home comforts.

As expected the men in Green delivered, once more, at Windsor Park last night in the 4-0 hammering of outsiders San Marino.

The fans filtered out of Windsor Park knowing that Northern Ireland go into the winter break in World Cup qualifying Group Three finally off the mark.

However, the feelings are divided as to whether they can still realistically mount a campaign to take them to South Africa in 2010.

Neil Coleman from Ballymena said: “We definitely should have had a few more goals. San Marino were one of the worst international teams I’ve ever seen.

“In the grand scheme of things San Marino were dreadful, we maybe passed it around too much when we should have gone more direct.

“However, a win is a win and we’re off the mark, which is always good. It gets the goal difference back into the positive as well.

“I really don’t think we have a chance of qualifying to be honest, we’ve already blown it away from home.

“If we were to and beat Poland and Czech Republic away from home them maybe, but I just can’t see it. Realistically we’re playing for third at best.”

Ryan Burns added: “San Marino provided little opposition, but you can only really what is put in front of you and we did that well, I thought.

“It was really important that Healy got off the mark and hopefully we’ll see the benefit that later in the group.

“I’m not sure about him getting man of the match mind you, but his record for us is something else.

“Young Michael O’Connor showed that he can come in a do a job and it shows we have that bit of strength in depth considering how many injuries and suspensions we had.”

Belfast man George Clarke was upbeat: “I don’t think our qualifying chances are over, but there is a lot of ground to make up.

“We’re only three points off the second placed team and there is still the likes of Slovakia and Slovenia to come at home.

“If we can beat San Marino away in February it might give us a bit of confidence on the road.

“I was a little disappointed we didn’t get to add a few more tonight, we had a lot of chances, especially in the second-half. Saying that it was a good job we scored when we did in the first half.”

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