Belfast Telegraph

Faroe Islands v Northern Ireland: Michael O'Neill hopes for a helping hand from Romanians

Euro 2016 qualifying Group F: Friday 4 September, 7.45pm, Torshavn

By Paul Ferguson

Michael O'Neill is hoping one of the oldest rivalries in world football can play a major role in helping Northern Ireland clinch their first ever European Championship finals place in France next year.

Group F leaders Romania are in Budapest this evening to take on near and bitter neighbours Hungary, in what is anticipated to be an explosive encounter as the Hungarians have never forgiven the Romanians for claiming Transylvania following the Treaty of Trianon after World War I.

The Magyars lie third in the group, two points behind second placed Northern Ireland. Anghel Iordanescu's Romania will be desperate to consolidate their position at the top, taking them a step closer to France and in the process landing a devastating blow on their eastern European rivals with just three games to go after tonight's clashes.

Northern Ireland manager O'Neill hasn't given up hope of topping Group F, but he would like to be told when the full-time whistle blows in Torshavn tonight that the Romanians have won.

He said: "We want Romania to win. We could finish top, but we are in a three horse race, so let's eliminate the third horse."

Hungary, though, are a team in form. They are unbeaten since losing to Northern Ireland in the first Euro 2016 qualifier, winning three games and drawing two.

This is despite the fact they are on their third coach this campaign with Bernd Storck now in charge.

Northern Ireland will meet Hungary on Monday night at Windsor Park in what could be a monumental game - if O'Neill's men beat the Faroes and Romania see off Hungary, another victory would confirm their attendance in France.

O'Neill added: "The difficulty for us is a change of coach again and how they will play. We'll review the Romania match."

STATE OF PLAY: If Northern Ireland beat the Faroe Islands this evening and Romania pick up three points against Hungary, O'Neill's men can secure their place in France with a win against Hungary at Windsor Park on Monday night.

Belfast Telegraph