Belfast Telegraph

World Cup 2018

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Germany GER

Sweden SWE

England ENG

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Japan JPN

Senegal SEN

Poland POL

Colombia COL

Saudi Arabia SAU

Egypt EGY

Uruguay URY

Russia RUS

Spain ESP

Morocco MAR

Iran IRN

Portugal POR

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France FRA

Australia AUS

Peru PER

Iceland ISL

Croatia CRO

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Argentina ARG

Mexico MEX

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Germany GER

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Watch: Northern Ireland are a team of jokers but that's why we could make it to the World Cup, says Magennis

By Gareth Hanna

Northern Ireland's players know how to have a laugh - and Josh Magennis is hoping they'll be chuckling all the way to Russia.

Their performances on the pitch are enough evidence that Michael O'Neill's men are deadly serious about their football, but they do it all with smiles on their faces and Magennis reckons that could be the key that unlocks the door to Russia.

It's well-known that Magennis is one of the big personalities in the changing room but he says keeping things light-hearted isn't an issue in the build-up to a double-header as big as the World Cup play-offs against Switzerland.

"I don't need to - there are plenty of other jokers in this group," he laughed. "No, we enjoy each other's company and we're able to have a laugh and a joke without somebody taking offence or thinking it's personal.

"We do a lot together, we share a lot of great laughs and hopefully a lot of great memories after Sunday.

"It's probably the reason we're doing so well. The lads know each other on and off the pitch, strengths and some things we need to compensate on. We're willing to go to war for each other - that's been shown. We give our all for each other."

Regardless of the results this weekend, this campaign will go down as the term in which Magennis went from bit-part player to one of the key cogs in Michael O'Neill's well-oiled machine. To the 27 year-old Charlton forward, that sounds alright.

"It's crazy to hear that," he said with his infectious smile. "Playing for your country is massive. It's doing what Michael asks of me and doing the fundamentals. I don't want it to stop at the play-offs. We'll be optimistic about how it's going to go but you can't be too confident. We've got to earn the right to say that we've gone to the World Cup and hopefully we can do that."

And what about Alexander Frei's claims that Switzerland will take the tie 5-1?

"I can't really say anything," said Magennis, keeping his powder dry. "He has full confidence, we have confidence. If you don't have confidence in your own team, you may as well not show up."

Belfast Telegraph Digital

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