Belfast Telegraph

Faroe Islands v Northern Ireland: Underdog Lars Olsen confident Faroes can show their bite

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

By Steven Beacom

Faroe Islands manager Lars Olsen has told the Northern Ireland team they will face a much better side than the one beaten with ease in Belfast earlier in the Euro 2016 qualifying campaign.

And the Denmark great has warned Michael O'Neill's men that his team are feeling confident about creating a shock in tomorrow night's crucial clash in Torshavn.

Last October, goals from Kyle Lafferty and Gareth McAuley earned a comfortable 2-0 victory over the minnows, leaving those at Windsor Park that night thinking the Faroes would finish bottom of Group F and be fortunate to earn a point.

How things have changed. Four games on, the Faroes are in fourth place and have six points in the bag, thanks to home and away wins over Greece, and feel they could have a few more after falling to narrow defeats against Romania and Hungary.

Much like Michael O'Neill with Northern Ireland, Olsen has worked wonders with the Faroes. What they also have in common is that the pair of them are the only managers who started this campaign still in their present jobs.

O'Neill would love to do the double over Olsen, Denmark's captain in their victorious Euro '92 winning squad, knowing that victory would move Northern Ireland a massive step closer to qualification for next year's finals in France.

Olsen, though, has other ideas.

Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph, he said: "We are looking forward to the game on Friday.

"In Belfast we were a little bit down but since then we've played four very good games.

"We have become better and better and won two times against Greece so we will go into this game feeling confident. We will be well prepared and hopefully will collect more points.

"We have gained great confidence from beating Greece home and away and also playing well against Romania and Hungary."

While the Faroes, made up of part-time footballers and professional players, have shocked Europe with their performances and results, Olsen admits he has been surprised at Northern Ireland's run in Group F which has taken them into second spot.

"I am a little surprised that Northern Ireland are in second place in the group but they deserve it," he said.

"I have watched all the matches Northern Ireland have played in this campaign on video and they have done very well. They are not in second because of luck.

"I think I know what the line-up for Northern Ireland will be for Friday and it will be interesting to see how they approach the match.

"In Belfast they are always very aggressive but in the games away from home they have been a little bit more controlled.

"I remember in our game at Windsor Park they were very good for the first 30 minutes and won the game in that period. Whatever way they play on Friday, we will be prepared for both and will aim to win.

"If you go back five years, we were a nation living on defence and going forward we were hoping for one lucky punch.

"Now we try to pass the ball and create chances with good build-up play.

"We know we are still a small country and are not expected to win, but we are feeling good about the game.

"When you play good games, both the coach and players grow in confidence and that's the way it is for us at the moment."

Belfast Telegraph