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Northern Ireland won't fear crunch Bosnia trip with or without fans, says Ian Baraclough

 

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Baraclough is confident his troops can complete the mission whatever the circumstances

Baraclough is confident his troops can complete the mission whatever the circumstances

Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press E

Baraclough is confident his troops can complete the mission whatever the circumstances

Northern Ireland manager Ian Baraclough says his side won't fear Bosnia-Herzegovina with or without a travelling support later this year.

The teams are scheduled to meet in the Stadio Bilino Polje in Zenica in their Euro 2020 play-off semi-final on October 8 and it's not clear yet whether fans will be allowed into the stadium due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

It could be a more daunting test with Bosnia fans creating an intimidating atmosphere but Baraclough is confident his troops can complete the mission whatever the circumstances.

"I wouldn't mind the authorities saying in late October that crowds can go back in," joked the new Northern Ireland boss.

"I went out to Bosnia for the postponed March game and it's a tight little crowd that will be full of atmosphere with a crowd. They are a partisan crowd and while the Northern Irish fans will make their voices heard, they will be in a corner of the ground.

"It's in Zenica where their players like to play their home games. It's a tight ground and the fans lift their players. We would not fear going there, we are a tight knit group who have been together for a long time and that helps. It wouldn't faze us going there with no fans. We'd love them to be there, that's why we play the game and the quicker crowds return, it will benefit everyone."

Michael O'Neill's side lost both Nations League clashes against Bosnia in 2018 but Baraclough insists the results should have been different.

"The two games and they got away from us because we couldn't take our chances," he told the BBC. "I don't think the Bosnian manager has managed in seven or eight years so you don't know what he will bring to the table but he will need to try and bring some harmony into the squad. The two main guys, Edin Dzeko and Miralem Pjanic, have had a big say in what goes on in the team and you are hoping there is that disharmony where players are running the team."

Belfast Telegraph