Belfast Telegraph

Watch: Green and White Army hold their heads high after Northern Ireland lose World Cup play-off

What the fans said

By Ian Cahoon

Heartbroken Northern Ireland fans had nothing but praise for Michael O'Neill's men after last night's second leg in Basel.

Just under 2,000 members of the Green and White Army made the trip to Switzerland hoping to see Thursday's first leg deficit overturned.

While many of them will travel home today disappointed that the World Cup dream is over, they are full of admiration for the efforts shown by their heroes.

Michael Brown was honest in his assessment after the 1-0 defeat over two legs.

"I'm absolutely gutted, to be honest," he admitted.

"It feels like we have been robbed but at the end of the day, it just wasn't meant to be. The players were so much better in Basel and at least we went out after having a go. Switzerland knew they were in a game last night. I just hope Michael O'Neill stays in the job now and senior players carry on to help see this through."

Ballymena man Stephen McGall admits the deciding factor of the two ties, Thursday's penalty award is a bitter pill to swallow.

"It's really disappointing that the penalty decision of the first game is what has cost us a chance to go the World Cup," he said.

"Even in last night's game I thought some of the antics from the Swiss players were poor.

"We couldn't have asked for any more than what the players did in Switzerland, we were so close with the header cleared off the line at the end. It has been another great campaign from Northern Ireland."

Graham Wills, from Carrickfergus, rues the missed opportunity to take the game to Switzerland in the home leg.

"We were more concerned with not going that going out for the win on Thursday night and that has cost us," he said.

"Sunday's game showed what we were capable of and we were much more of a threat. The chances were there and we probably weren't clinical enough in the final third. bIt's tough to go out as the result of one terrible decision."

Mark Graham was hoping to see Michael O'Neill go for broken earlier in the game last night.

"I thought we would have had a better chance if we had gone with two men up front," he said.

"We looked like we were worrying them when we took the game to them and an extra man up there might have given us the chance to score. They played really well overall though and it was just the first leg that has cost us a place in the end. It might be the only chance we get to go to the World Cup in a while, but the players gave everything."

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