Northern Ireland must endure two daunting trips to the former Soviet Union and take on one of the best players on the planet in order to qualify for the 2014 World Cup finals in Brazil.
At the draw in Rio de Janeiro last night, Nigel Worthington’s side were pitted against Russia and Azerbaijan in Group F along with Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal, Israel and Luxembourg.
Portugal are sure to add the glamour in the group but Moscow has never been the most inviting place, while Baku and Tel Aviv are of course actually in Asia!
Boss Worthington though believes Northern Ireland will have an excellent chance of reaching their first World Cup finals in just over 25 years.
“It’s a pretty tough group, but I realise it could have been tougher,” said Worthington last night.
“The travel issue jumps out at you straight away but it’s something we must simply overcome and I’m confident it won’t be a problem.
“This draw has given us a chance and it’s up to us to take it.”
The Republic also face a tough challenge to qualify after they were drawn in Group C with former World champions Germany, Sweden, Austria Faroe Islands and Kazakhstan.
Qualifying games are expected to start in 13 months time.
For the full story, see this week's Sunday Life.