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Let’s win two Cup finals and have world at our feet: Lewis

NI defender Jamal eyes maximum points on the road to stay on course for Qatar

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Jamal Lewis

Jamal Lewis

Jamal Lewis

Rampaging left wing back Jamal Lewis has declared Northern Ireland are preparing to win ‘two Cup finals’ this week.

Ian Baraclough’s severely depleted squad flew into gorgeous Geneva yesterday tea time ahead of tomorrow’s crucial World Cup qualifier against Switzerland before they regroup to travel further east in Europe to tackle Bulgaria in Sofia on Tuesday night.

With the World Cup campaign culminating next month, Northern Ireland, who are three points behind the Swiss in the battle for second place in Group C, know two road wins and six points is essential if they are to stay in the hunt next month.

European champions Italy look set to seal top spot so the charge is on to claim a coveted play-off spot with Qatar the reward late next year.

“We can go second, that’s a really big incentive and it would also bring a lot of momentum into the Bulgaria game, and we believe we can win that as well,” enthused Newcastle United defender Lewis.

“For me personally, and as a group, we firmly believe we can come out of this international break with six points, which would put us in a great position for the November break. It would be like two Cup finals.”

Just as they experienced in Belfast last month, Northern Ireland will go into the return leg at the Stade de Geneve with key personnel missing.

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Jonny and Corry Evans, Michael Smith, Shayne Lavery, Ali McCann and Gavin Whyte will all be absent while striker Josh Magennis may play but has only returned from injury.

But 23 year-old Lewis, who will return to Newcastle United under new ownership next week, is confident those players who are given their opportunity by Baraclough will rise to the challenge and take full advantage of claiming a famous scalp on Swiss soil.

They may be playing down the divisions or struggling for game time at their clubs, but pulling on a Northern Ireland shirt, Lewis insists, can galvanise them.

“This group of players can definitely play at a top level,” stresses Lewis.

“We’ve played against decent teams before, some of the best teams in the world and gave them a hard time. We are going to base ourselves on being solid and hard to break down, that’s what we were last month and that’s what we plan to be this Saturday.”


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