Belfast Telegraph

Finish on a high!

Go on boys, you can do it again at Windsor

By Steven Beacom

Two games, two wins and a result or two elsewhere to go our way. That's what is required for Northern Ireland to stun the football world and qualify for the 2008 European Championship finals.

Simple, isn't it?

The thing is nothing has been simple in this astonishing campaign.

A quick recap - Northern Ireland were hammered 3-0 at home to Iceland in their first game before bouncing back with a stunning 3-2 victory over Spain with a magnificent David Healy hat-trick. That was followed by the then manager Lawrie Sanchez telling the Irish FA he wanted to quit feeling he was not getting the respect he deserved. Then he returned and the team went on an amazing run that finished with them going top of Group F with a fantastic 2-1 win over Sweden in March. Again Healy delivered the goals.

After that Lawrie was off again - this time for good to Fulham.

Nigel Worthington came in and started with a win over Liechtenstein before those two dreadful defeats in Latvia and Iceland.

The Euro 2008 dream looked over then but back the boys came with a fighting 1-1 draw in Sweden.

And that brings us up to date. More twists and turns than a roller coaster at Disneyland.

And now for the Hollywood ending.

Wins over Denmark and Spain in the next week and all roads lead to Austria and Switzerland next year.

The Spanish game on Wednesday night in Gran Canaria could provide the party to end all parties for the Green and White Army, but first things first.

Let's focus on Denmark.

The success of this campaign has been built on outstanding victories at Windsor Park.

Now one more in front of 14,500 passionate fans is required to take it to the wire, regardless of tomorrow's night's result between Spain and Sweden.

So, who are the men to deliver this victory?

Healy obviously. That goes without saying, but the other 10 players can't just rely on the man from Killyleagh to deliver the goods.

Warren Feeney is likely to be alongside Healy. He will relish that and would love to score his first goal of the campaign.

He will need supply of course and that's where Keith Gillespie, Steve Davis, Sammy Clingan and Chris Brunt come in.

The midfield four must be the fab four against the Danes, who will provide a stiff challenge in the middle of the park.

Defensively Northern Irel;and must be strong too with Chris Baird, Aaron Hughes, Stephen Craigan and Jonny Evans keeping the likes of the excellent Christian Poulsen and Jon Dahl Tomasson, who has scored 49 international goals, at bay.

Behind them a clean sheet from the dependable Maik Taylor would go a long way to securing the result that is needed.

Ivan Sproule and new boy Martin Paterson are good wild cards to have on the bench for what promises to be a wonderful occasion. Go for it boys, You can do it. Kick-off is 7.45pm.

Belfast Telegraph

Daily News Headlines Newsletter

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox.


From Belfast Telegraph