Belfast Telegraph

UK Website Of The Year

German ace Mats Hummels' boost for Northern Ireland World Cup hopes

By Paul Ferguson

Published 13/10/2016

Germany's Joshua Kimmich (left) and Northern Ireland's Jamie Ward battle for the ball during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifying match at the HDI Arena, Hannover. PA
Germany's Joshua Kimmich (left) and Northern Ireland's Jamie Ward battle for the ball during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifying match at the HDI Arena, Hannover. PA
Northern Ireland's fans in Hannover for Northern Ireland's World Cup Qualifier against Germany on Tuesday evening. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press
Northern Ireland´s defender Gareth McAuley vies for the ball during the WC 2018 football qualification match between Germany and Northern Ireland in Hanover, Germany on October 11, 2016. AFP/Getty Images
Northern Ireland's fans in Hannover for Northern Ireland's World Cup Qualifier against Germany on Tuesday evening. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press
HANOVER, GERMANY - OCTOBER 11: Mats Hummels (R) of Germany and Corry Evans of Northern Ireland compete for the ball during the FIFA 2018 World Cup Qualifier between Germany and Northern Ireland at HDI-Arena on October 11, 2016 in Hanover, Germany. (Photo by Joern Pollex/Bongarts/Getty Images)
Northern Ireland's fans in Hannover for Northern Ireland's World Cup Qualifier against Germany on Tuesday evening. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press
Northern Ireland v Germany World Cup Qualifier Group C fans. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press
HANOVER, GERMANY - OCTOBER 11: Josh Magennis of Northern Ireland reacts to a missed chance during the FIFA 2018 World Cup Qualifier between Germany and Northern Ireland at HDI-Arena on October 11, 2016 in Hanover, Lower Saxony. (Photo by Stuart Franklin/Bongarts/Getty Images)
HANOVER, GERMANY - OCTOBER 11: Corry Evans of Northern Ireland looks on during the FIFA 2018 World Cup Qualifier between Germany and Northern Ireland at HDI-Arena on October 11, 2016 in Hanover, Lower Saxony. (Photo by Stuart Franklin/Bongarts/Getty Images)
PACEMAKER BELFAST 11/10/2016 Northern Ireland v Germany World Cup Qualifier Group C Fans during this evenings game at the HDI Arena Hannover. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press
HANOVER, GERMANY - OCTOBER 11: Toni Kroos of Germany and Oliver Norwood of Northern Ireland in action during the FIFA 2018 World Cup Qualifier between Germany and Northern Ireland at HDI-Arena on October 11, 2016 in Hanover, Lower Saxony. (Photo by Martin Rose/Bongarts/Getty Images)
HANOVER, GERMANY - OCTOBER 11: Mario Goetze of Germany (C) controls the ball during the FIFA 2018 World Cup Qualifier between Germany and Northern Ireland at HDI-Arena on October 11, 2016 in Hanover, Germany. (Photo by Joern Pollex/Bongarts/Getty Images)
PACEMAKER BELFAST 11/10/2016 Northern Ireland v Germany World Cup Qualifier Group C Fans during this evenings game at the HDI Arena Hannover. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 11/10/2016 Northern Ireland v Germany World Cup Qualifier Group C A dejected Jonny Evans as Germany’s Sami Khedira scores during this evenings game at the HDI Arena Hannover. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press
Germany's Julian Draxler scores his side's first goal of the game during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifying match at the HDI Arena, Hannover. PA
HANOVER, GERMANY - OCTOBER 11: Julian Draxler of Germany celebrates with team mates after scoring his sides first goal during the FIFA 2018 World Cup Qualifier between Germany and Northern Ireland at HDI-Arena on October 11, 2016 in Hanover, Lower Saxony. (Photo by Martin Rose/Bongarts/Getty Images)
HANOVER, GERMANY - OCTOBER 11: Julian Draxler of Germany celebrates with team mates after scoring his sides first goal during the FIFA 2018 World Cup Qualifier between Germany and Northern Ireland at HDI-Arena on October 11, 2016 in Hanover, Lower Saxony. (Photo by Stuart Franklin/Bongarts/Getty Images)
HANOVER, GERMANY - OCTOBER 11: Sami Khedira of Germany celebrates scoring his sides second goal with Matts Hummels of Germany during the FIFA 2018 World Cup Qualifier between Germany and Northern Ireland at HDI-Arena on October 11, 2016 in Hanover, Lower Saxony. (Photo by Martin Rose/Bongarts/Getty Images)
Germany's Sami Khedira (third from left) scores his side's second goal of the game during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifying match at the HDI Arena, Hannover. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday October 11, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Germany. Photo credit should read: Andrew Matthews/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only, No commercial use without prior permission, please contact PA Images for further information: Tel: +44 (0) 115 8447447.
Northern Ireland's Lee Hodson during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifying match at the HDI Arena, Hannover. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday October 11, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Germany. Photo credit should read: Andrew Matthews/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only, No commercial use without prior permission, please contact PA Images for further information: Tel: +44 (0) 115 8447447.
HANOVER, GERMANY - OCTOBER 11: Julian Draxler of Germany celebrates scoring his sides first goal during the FIFA 2018 World Cup Qualifier between Germany and Northern Ireland at HDI-Arena on October 11, 2016 in Hanover, Lower Saxony. (Photo by Martin Rose/Bongarts/Getty Images)
HANOVER, GERMANY - OCTOBER 11: Joshua Kimmich (L) of Germany and Shane Ferguson of Northern Ireland compete for the ball during the FIFA 2018 World Cup Qualifier between Germany and Northern Ireland at HDI-Arena on October 11, 2016 in Hanover, Germany. (Photo by Joern Pollex/Bongarts/Getty Images)
HANOVER, GERMANY - OCTOBER 11: Josh Magennis of Northern Ireland reacts to a missed chance during the FIFA 2018 World Cup Qualifier between Germany and Northern Ireland at HDI-Arena on October 11, 2016 in Hanover, Lower Saxony. (Photo by Stuart Franklin/Bongarts/Getty Images)
Northern Ireland fans in the stands during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifying match at the HDI Arena, Hannover. PA
Germany's Jerome Boateng (right) and Northern Ireland's Josh Magennis battle for the ball in the air during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifying match at the HDI Arena, Hannover. PA
Northern Ireland fans in the stands during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifying match at the HDI Arena, Hannover. PA
Northern Ireland's manager Michael O'Neill during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifying match at the HDI Arena, Hannover. PA
A Northern Ireland fan in the stands in a scary clown fancy dress during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifying match at the HDI Arena, Hannover. PA
A Northern Ireland fan in the stands in a scary clown fancy dress during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifying match at the HDI Arena, Hannover. PA
A Northern Ireland fan in the stands in a scary clown fancy dress during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifying match at the HDI Arena, Hannover. PA
PACEMAKER BELFAST 10/10/2016 Northern Ireland's Fans (From L-R) Geoff Bannatyne and Steve Smith in Hannover for Northern Ireland's World Cup Qualifier against Germany on Tuesday evening. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 10/10/2016 Northern Ireland's Fans (From L-R) Steven Hull, Neill McIlrath and Darren McCrory in Hannover for Northern Ireland's World Cup Qualifier against Germany on Tuesday evening. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 10/10/2016 Northern Ireland's Fans (From L-R) Gary Johnston, Stewart Bell and Denis Campbell in Hannover for Northern Ireland's World Cup Qualifier against Germany on Tuesday evening. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 10/10/2016 Northern Ireland's Fans (From L-R) Steven Hull, Neill McIlrath and Darren McCrory in Hannover for Northern Ireland's World Cup Qualifier against Germany on Tuesday evening. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 10/10/2016 Northern Ireland's Fans (From L-R) Geoff Bannatyne and Steve Smith in Hannover for Northern Ireland's World Cup Qualifier against Germany on Tuesday evening. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press
Northern Ireland Fans arrive in Hannover, ahead of Northern Ireland's World Cup Qualifier against Germany on Tuesday evening. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press
Northern Ireland fans pictured in Hannover before the World Cup 2018 Qualifier against Germany. October 2016
Northern Ireland Fans From L-R Phillip Hughes and Steven Cairns arrive in Hannover, ahead of Northern Ireland's World Cup Qualifier against Germany on Tuesday evening. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press
Northern Ireland Fans From L-R Phillip Hughes and Steven Cairns arrive in Hannover, ahead of Northern Ireland's World Cup Qualifier against Germany on Tuesday evening. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press
Northern Ireland Fans From L-R Davy Hamill and Tom Parke arrive in Hannover, ahead of Northern Ireland's World Cup Qualifier against Germany on Tuesday evening. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press
Northern Ireland fans pictured in Hannover before the World Cup 2018 Qualifier against Germany. October 2016
Northern Ireland fans pictured in Hannover before the World Cup 2018 Qualifier against Germany. October 2016

Germany's world class defender Mats Hummels believes Northern Ireland are capable of securing second place in World Cup qualifying Group C - and a play-off match for Russia 2018.

The Bayern Munich defender credited Michael O'Neill's men with a greatly improved performance in Tuesday's 2-0 defeat by the World champions in Hannover, compared to a 1-0 backs to the wall loss at the Euro 2016 finals in France in June when the Germans completely dominated.

Hummels and his superstar international team-mates have now played all three teams in Group C expected to challenge for second place behind Germany, after beating Norway and the Czech Republic both 3-0 in their opening World Cup qualifying games, and the 27-year-old insists Northern Ireland have the quality to finish just behind the World champions.

"I think Northern Ireland can definitely play for the second place in this group," insisted Hummels, who rejoined Bayern Munich last summer after eight years with Bundesliga rivals Borussia Dortmund.

"If you look at the results, the Czech Republic have just two points so there is a really good chance for Northern Ireland, with four points, to build on their start and maybe finish second if we win the group."

Northern Ireland are third in Group C with Germany top, ahead of surprise package and our next opponents Azerbaijan, at Windsor Park on November 11, after their shock win over Norway and a draw with the Czech Republic in Prague.

Hummels added: "I think every team except San Marino will believe they can finish second and Northern Ireland have shown against us they should be viewed like that.

"I hope, of course, we will make it into first place in the group and we are in a good position right now."

While Hummels and his centre back partner Jerome Boateng coasted through the Euro finals group match at the Parc des Princes last summer, they were given a much tougher examination at the HDI Arena in Germany on Tuesday night.

Northern Ireland's lone striker Josh Magennis and attacking midfielder Jamie Ward showed some nices touches, strength and pace to get behind them in the first half and create a few decent opportunities.

"I think it was a better performance (than the game in France); we scored just one goal in the game at the European Championships but we had more chances in the game in Paris," conceded Hummels.

"It was very tough to create chances this time but we had the luck to score two early goals and that was very important.

"We had to keep our patience and not try to do too much but I believe both teams were better than they were in France."

Despite losing two early goals through a brilliant finish from Julian Draxler and a glancing header from Sami Khedira following a powerful looping assist from Hummels, Northern Ireland rallied and defended stoutly with Jonny Evans, Aaron Hughes, Gareth McAuley, Lee Hodson and Shane Ferguson frustrating the Germans with expertly timed tackles and blocks.

The Germans started to lose their composure in front of goal during the second half, with substitute Ilkay Gundogan of Manchester City guilty of wasteful efforts.

Hummels continued: "We had three or four more good chances after we scored the goals and that was it for the rest of the game.

"Of course I think it was up to us to create opportunities and we had some really good chances but Northern Ireland defended very well."

Belfast Telegraph

Your Comments

COMMENT RULES: Comments that are judged to be defamatory, abusive or in bad taste are not acceptable and contributors who consistently fall below certain criteria will be permanently blacklisted. The moderator will not enter into debate with individual contributors and the moderator’s decision is final. It is Belfast Telegraph policy to close comments on court cases, tribunals and active legal investigations. We may also close comments on articles which are being targeted for abuse. Problems with commenting? customercare@belfasttelegraph.co.uk

Read More

From Belfast Telegraph