22 March, 2013 - 11:23

Northern Ireland O'Neill wants an extended stay

Northern Ireland O'Neill wants an extended stay

Northern Ireland manager Michael O’Neill revealed he wants to stay in charge for several years more in a bid to transform the national team into competitive European force.

Northern Ireland are yet to secure their first victory of World Cup qualifying campaign under O’Neill, who succeeded Nigel Worthington as manager. They are lying at the fourth place of Group F with three points from four games and have only outside chance of finishing in the second place.

And yet, the 43-year-old, whose contract is due expire at the end of the year, believes, given time and contract extension, Northern Ireland have what it takes to qualify for their first major tournament since 1986. He said: “The job for me was always until the end of this campaign but I have enjoyed the challenge. If the association felt they wanted me to continue to the Euros I would do it, simple as that. It takes you six months to learn the nature of the job and what’s expected. The relationship with myself and the players is strong and can only continue to develop. Certainly, I would welcome that opportunity.”

“I’ve been in the job a year and we’ve only had 22 days to work with the players, so that’s a challenge. You have to mould a team. We’ll always be a team that is more than the sum of its parts. In the period of time we have had with the players that’s what we have tried to work on. I believe this is a group of players who can win games at international level, be competitive and, given time, can get the opportunity to get close to qualification for a major tournament,” he said.

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Author: Basil Naumov

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