Belfast Telegraph

Spain top play-off prize on offer to O'Neill's men


Michael O'Neill
Michael O'Neill
Gareth Hanna

By Gareth Hanna

The final pieces of the Euro 2020 prize on offer to Northern Ireland will be put into place this afternoon.

The draw for next summer's tournament takes place in Bucharest, Romania at 5.00pm, when Northern Ireland will discover the final two opponents they will face should they come through the March play-offs, for which Michael O'Neill is remaining in charge.

His side must first secure victory in Bosnia & Herzegovinia on March 26, with Zenica, 50 miles from the capital Sarajevo, the likely venue.

That would set up a winner-takes-all tie in Belfast against either neighbours Republic of Ireland or Slovakia five days later.

The countries in that play-off structure already know much of what awaits next summer.

Northern Ireland know that if they are victorious in March, they will win a spot in Group E alongside Spain, who they would face in Bilbao. The play-off victor's other two group games will take place in Dublin's Aviva Stadium.

If successful, a Group of Death scenario could await Northern Ireland with a possibility of France and Portugal also being drawn in Spain's group

Whether or not O'Neill will stay at the helm should his side reach the finals has yet to be determined but he will still have a keen eye on this afternoon's draw, when both of the remaining Group E competitors will be decided.

There's even a nightmare scenario that could see the play-off winners placed in a group of death that features three of the world's top eight teams.

As Northern Ireland still have it all to do to even reach the Euro 2020 finals, the GAWA won't be getting picky as they watch the draw this afternoon.

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph