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Faroes boss Lars Olsen is seeking happy return to Windsor

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Fun and games: Faroe Islands players enjoy playing around during their training session at Windsor Park ahead of facing Northern Ireland

Fun and games: Faroe Islands players enjoy playing around during their training session at Windsor Park ahead of facing Northern Ireland

Fun and games: Faroe Islands players enjoy playing around during their training session at Windsor Park ahead of facing Northern Ireland

Faroe Islands manager Lars Olsen is full of respect for Northern Ireland, but he is crossing his fingers they endure another off day at Windsor Park tonight.

Olsen captained Denmark to an unexpected triumph in the 1992 European Championships, but any success with the Faroes would be seen as an even more unlikely achievement.

Northern Ireland arguably provide his side with their best chance of an upset in the Euro 2016 qualifying campaign and they get their first chance when they line-up at a half-demolished Windsor Park this evening - a venue that Olsen knows well having faced Northern Ireland in Belfast a couple of times during his playing career.

Olsen is not underestimating Michael O'Neill's men, but he knows that they slipped up in drawing at home to Luxembourg and Azerbaijan in the previous campaign.

"We have a great respect for Northern Ireland for several reasons. The last time we came here I am told we lost 4-0," said 53-year-old Olsen.

"They also got a good start to the campaign in Hungary, that is a difficult place to play and they won.

"And in the last qualification series they beat a great team, Russia, in Belfast which commands a lot of respect.

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"Nevertheless, I promise we will give our best to take the three points off them.

"I noticed the results against Azerbaijan and Luxembourg and I hope they fail again."

Olsen's only victory in three years as manager of the Faroe Islands may have come at the expense of international newcomers Gibraltar, but that has not dampened his optimism.

Indeed, he and his players all believe that a first competitive victory of his reign can come against a Northern Ireland side that they came within 14 minutes of beating during the last European Championship campaign.

"I think we can win, yes," he said.

"I always think victory is possible. I thought that against Finland last month and I will think that against Hungary too.

"Even away from home our first thought is, 'how can we win the game?'."

One player in the Northern Ireland team will be familiar to Olsen. He signed goalkeeper Roy Carroll while manager of Danish club side Odense BK five years ago.

Defender Atli Gregersen, meanwhile, was on the charm offensive with an unexpected description of Windsor Park.

Never mistaken for one of European football's most aesthetically pleasing venues, even in its heyday, it is currently a partial building site with only two stands operational due to redevelopment work.

But Gregersen said: "This scene is not unusual for us, but the stadia we play in are not as beautiful as this one.

"I don't think it will help us much, the 10,500 fans will be up for it.

"A wise man once told me you have to make your own atmosphere - and that's what we will do."


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