Belfast Telegraph

Davis sick and tired of disappointment

By Keith Bailie

Captain Steve Davis is refusing to make excuses for Northern Ireland's faltering World Cup qualifying results.

The Southampton midfielder said: "You could say it's the same old story but that's not good enough, you can't keep saying that. You can't keep going in after a game with that same feeling of disappointment and frustration.

"If you look at the performances in the group so far, they've been good, but we haven't had the results to go along with it.

"We should have got something from the game but if you don't take your chances at this level of football you get punished. That was the difference. They took theirs, we didn't take ours."

Davis himself missed a glorious opportunity to give Northern Ireland the lead, when his six yard effort was blocked by Israel goalkeeper Dudu Aouate.

He was prepared to take his share of the blame for the home defeat: "I should have scored in the first half, when Martin Paterson put the ball across the box. Their keeper gambled and got a hand to it.

"You need to take those chances at this level and I didn't manage to do that. I'm just sick of this feeling of disappointment and I'm sure the fans feel the same.

"I just hope that they can sit back and see the progression in terms of performances, it's just that we need to start getting results.

"Realistically it's unlikely we will qualify now, so we just have to keep going and try and pick up as many points as possible and try and finish as high up the group table as we can."

Another man feeling the pain of defeat is Newcastle United youngster Shane Ferguson. The left-winger had a frustrating night, struggling to make an impact on the game.

He said: "There have probably been four games where we should have had better results. The boys in the changing room are all devastated – it's just so disappointing for all of us.

"We were on top for 70 minutes of the game, but once they got that first goal it just took it out of us. It's so hard to accept because we thought we'd got the better of them but then they picked us off on the counter attack.

"I don't know what to put it down to – they just took their chances better than we did. And it's really as simple as that."

With Russia, Portugal and surprise package Israel fighting it out for qualification, Northern Ireland now face a battle with Azerbaijan and Luxembourg for fourth spot.

While that battle may seem futile, with 24 teams set to qualify for Euro 2018, Northern Ireland's qualification seeding is more important than ever.

Belfast Telegraph


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