Belfast Telegraph

We can beat anybody at Windsor with our 'electric' GAWA, says McGovern

 

By Steven Beacom

Michael McGovern kept a magnificent seven clean sheets in the World Cup qualifying group.

How the Northern Ireland goalkeeper would love another one tonight in the first leg of the World Cup play-off against Switzerland.

With this being a two legged affair, away goals come into play, and manager Michael O'Neill and his players will be determined not to concede.

On the back of his heroics in the Euro 2016 finals, McGovern has kicked on at international level despite not playing at club level for Norwich City.

If that has been frustrating for the Fermanagh man, turning out for the international side has been fantastic.

In the qualifiers, only Germany and Norway scored against Northern Ireland, and the players would agree that the final Group C match against Norway was a bizarre one to play in as moments before kick-off they learnt they had made it into the play-offs.

Now comes the crunch tie with the Swiss, whose genuine quality in attack will try to overcome one of the meanest teams in Europe.

"Defensively since Michael (O'Neill) came in over the last three years we have been hard to score against," says McGovern.

"The team works really hard and we have good defenders, and hopefully we can get another clean sheet at Windsor and then finish the job off in Switzerland."

While some fans may have preferred Northern Ireland to be playing at home in the second leg of the play-off, McGovern is content that it is the other way round as it gives Northern Ireland an opportunity to put Switzerland under pressure.

"It's got its advantages, especially if we can get a good performance in the opening leg and take a lead going over to Switzerland," said the 33-year-old.

"I think at home, with our fans behind us, we can beat anybody. So we're really looking forward to the game and the atmosphere should be electric.

"Then an away goal over there would be massive. We know they are a good side but we have proved ourselves to be a good team as well."

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