Belfast Telegraph

Viewpoint: The ball's at their feet

Tonight's the night ... if ever there is a time for Northern Ireland to recreate past magic then it's this evening in Stockholm.

The team that, until recent months, played so well takes to the pitch in the Swedish capital in full knowledge that a defeat will almost certainly spell the end of their Euro 2008 dream.

It was a dream that came tantalisingly close to coming true with wins over Sweden and England ? until the twin disasters of Reykjavik and Riga.

The pressure has been racked up by the portrayal of Northern Ireland's footballers as a bunch of sheep who will be lambs to the slaughter at the feet of a ruthlessly efficient Swedish football machine.

Well, er, they were neither ruthless nor efficient on a certain night at Windsor Park last March.

David Healy - he of the sheep montage in the Swedish paper - has a perfect opportunity to take revenge and wipe the smiles off the faces of nine million Swedes tonight.

It has to be admitted, though, that Healy & Co have an uphill task. Due to injury and suspensions, Northern Ireland field almost a reserve team.

Nevertheless, a win tonight would be doubly sweet - keeping both our Euro hopes alive ? and leaving the over-confident Swedes looking like a bunch of silly asses.

Belfast Telegraph


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