O'Neill laments cruel end to Northern Ireland's World Cup hopes

Mae Love
November 14, 2017

So, there's no point in crying foul of the referee when a poor decision went against Northern Ireland if, in the same circumstances, they would have been only too happy to profit from the situation if the roles had been reversed.

Northern Ireland face a fight to hold on to manager Michael O'Neill after their failure to reach the World Cup finals.

"I know it's a hard time and it will come for them and they will make considerations going forward, certainly the likes of Aaron and Gareth at 38 and 37, and Chris Brunt...these players that have had long and established Northern Ireland careers".

And he thinks that it is club football where O'Neill's future lies.

"If we had won 1-0 (in the first leg) it would have been very hard tonight", said Croatia coach Dalic, who only took over from the sacked Ante Cacic last month. "We did not play at our level, but more important is the result", said Real Madrid midfielder Luka Modric."Greece played a good game tonight, it pushed us, but there was no serious opportunity (of a comeback)".

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A number of club sides, including Rangers, are also said to be monitoring the man who led Northern Ireland to a maiden European Championships in 2016, and it is understood the right club project would be the preferred choice should he leave his current job. The referee adjudged Corry Evans had handled Xherdan Shaqiri's shot though replays showed it hit the back of his shoulder.

"We're missing out on the chance to go to the World Cup". The SFA want to include Austin MacPhee, the Northern Ireland assistant, on the backroom team if they appoint O'Neill.

"Over the two legs, for us to miss out off the nature of the decision and how it was given, is extremely cruel".

"Emotions are very high - there's huge, huge disappointment. For some of these players, it's unlikely that the World Cup will come around for them".

As the players came to terms with the end of their World Cup dream, defender Jonny Evans accepted O'Neill may seek a new challenge, saying: 'As a manager, he's unbelievable.

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