Belfast Telegraph

Shaqiri anticipating a home party


By Steven Beacom

Stoke City star Xherdan Shaqiri expects to be in Russia next summer, insisting that Switzerland are a superior side to Northern Ireland whose players will be keen to prove him wrong.

Shaqiri said: "It will be a tough game. We have seen footage of their most recent games and the important thing is we know what to expect, but we have to bring the qualities we have onto the pitch.

"The most important thing is to qualify for the World Cup, and I am confident that if we play well, we will do that.

"We play in Northern Ireland first and will try to take something back for when we play at home.

"They will be two tough games - they were in a difficult qualifying group with Germany and the Czech Republic - but we have the quality and I think we are the better team. I am confident we are going to go through."

With home advantage in the second leg, the 26-year old admits he's excited by the possibility of celebrating progression to the World Cup finals at home.

"I think it could be an advantage to play at home in the second game," the former Bayern Munich star said. "In the case of extra time, for example, and to hopefully have a World Cup qualification celebration party at home."

There is a sense though that the Swiss are still aggrieved at not having already qualified for the World Cup.

"I would rather have taken the direct way to Russia, it's a strange feeling to have 27 points and still be in the play-off," said Shaqiri. "It's disappointing but those are the rules."

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph