Belfast Telegraph

Billy Bingham's nine game unbeaten Northern Ireland run can be Micheal O'Neill's target

By Steven Beacom

Northern Ireland are on an unbeaten run of SEVEN matches. Amid all the celebrations after qualifying for the Euro 2016 finals, that pleasing statistic has been forgotten about by most.

It shouldn't be because in the history of the Northern Ireland side such fine form has been as rare as a Green and White Army member who loves the new national team's strip!

The last defeat for Michael O'Neill's men came at Hampden Park in March to Scotland.

Since then Northern Ireland have beaten Finland, the Faroe Islands and Greece and drew with Romania, Hungary, Finland and Qatar in a mixture of friendlies and Euro qualifiers, totalling up to a magnificent seven.

You would like to think given the feelgood factor surrounding O'Neill's side at present that number eight will come at home to Latvia on Friday night in the first of what the manager hopes will be five friendlies in the build up to next year's finals in France.

The last time a Northern Ireland side went unbeaten for eight games was when Billy Bingham was in charge.

No major surprise there given the unpredictable and often unflattering results that followed under his successors.

For the record, it was in March 1985 when Northern Ireland drew 0-0 with Spain before embarking on what ended up as a NINE match unbeaten run ending in the 1986 World Cup finals when Spain were victorious against Pat Jennings and co in Mexico.

The target has been set.

Wouldn't it be something if the current crop could outdo Bingham's legendary side?

In doing so confidence would be sky high heading into the Euro 2016 finals in France.

212 days to go!

Belfast Telegraph