O'Neill knows a win over Moldova is the only option to tee up Republic of Ireland's Wales thriller
Martin O'Neill has admitted his excitement at what lies ahead for the Republic of Ireland after agreeing to extend his stay as manager for the Euro 2020 campaign.
The Football Association of Ireland announced on Thursday evening that the 65-year-old, whose existing contract was due to expire at the end of the ongoing World Cup qualification process, has accepted a new deal.
It is understood assistant Roy Keane and the rest of the coaching staff have joined him.
O'Neill's decision was announced just hours after he revealed he had opened talks with FAI chief executive John Delaney and hinted he was ready to stay on regardless of what happens in Friday night's Group D showdown with Moldova and Monday's trip to Wales which will determine Ireland's fate.
The former Celtic boss, who guided the Republic to last summer's Euro 2016 finals, told FAI TV: "I spoke to John very recently and he said on behalf of the board he would like to extend my contract for another couple of years, obviously with the Euros coming up, and I've agreed to do so.
"I'm delighted. I've enjoyed it immensely. International football was something I didn't know whether you'd get used to or not, but obviously with qualification for the Euros made it all worthwhile - and we're still in this competition also.
"We've some younger players coming through who will take over from the older players who will retire naturally from old age as much as anything else, so it's exciting times."
The news was announced via the FAI's official Twitter account in a post which read: "Martin O'Neill has agreed a contract extension and will continue as the Republic of Ireland manager for the EURO 2020 campaign!"
Speaking earlier in the day, the man who replaced Giovanni Trapattoni at the helm in November 2013 was bullish when asked if his reign to date could be considered a success however the games against Moldova and Wales pan out.
He replied: "Well, we qualified for a competition - one out of one.
"I think the season tickets have gone from 4,000 when we started to 16,000, so I think there is some evidence that we're doing okay.
"We did qualify for the Euros, we're still in the mix for this one, so one out of one at the minute is not too bad."
Only victory over bottom-of-the-table Moldova will leave the Republic still in the mix and even then, they will need to win in Cardiff on Monday evening to ensure they are one of the best eight runners-up and therefore claim a play-off place.
The prospect of a winner-takes-all showdown with a Wales team lacking injured superstar Gareth Bale may be an enticing one, but it was one O'Neill simply will not allow himself to consider until the final whistle has sounded at the Aviva Stadium.
He said: "We have shown in the past great resilience, great courage to come and fight back from some adversity - that's what we have been very, very strong at - and tomorrow night, we will need all of that.
"But it's not about bringing things over to Cardiff. If we win the game, that will be enough confidence to take us to Cardiff regardless.
"This is it: we must win tomorrow night."
Belfast Telegraph Digital