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Northern Ireland Windsor invincibles can be World Cup heroes: Michael O’Neill

By Steven Beacom

Northern Ireland manager Michael O’Neill has urged his team to continue their invincible form at Windsor Park and home in on World Cup qualification.

O’Neill and his players will be treated like homecoming heroes against San Marino on Saturday when they play their first match in Belfast since making the knockout stages of the Euro 2016 finals.

For the boss, though, the result in the Group C 2018 World Cup qualifier will be more important than the party atmosphere, which will coincide with the official opening of the new 18,000-capacity stadium.

O’Neill is determined that his team will be unbeaten at home in this campaign, as was the case  when they qualified for France, and wants to hit the ground running against the minnows of San Marino before bigger tests in the shape of Azerbaijan, Norway, the Czech Republic and World Cup holders Germany come to town.

“We haven’t been beaten at home since against Portugal in 2013 and we want to keep that record intact,” said O’Neill of the eight-game unbeaten record.

“You cannot have a good campaign and drop points at home. Our plan is to get a win on the board against San Marino and set the tone for another great series of games in Belfast.”

More: Northern Ireland v San Marino: There's no place like home for O'Neill

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