'Wounded' Ian Baraclough won't give in as World Cup dream diminishes

‘Wounded’ Ian Baraclough won’t give in despite Northern Ireland’s hopes of World Cup qualification slipping away as underdogs ready themselves for must win clash in Bulgaria

  • Ian Baraclough won’t give up hope on qualifying for the World Cup next year 
  • Switzerland beat Northern Ireland 2-0 in World Cup qualifying on Saturday
  • The defeat leaves them with a slim chance of earning qualification for Qatar
  • Northern Ireland travel to Bulgaria in desperate need of a big victory

Manager Ian Baraclough must deliver the mother of all pep talks when Northern Ireland make the trip to Bulgaria for what looks like a lost cause in their bid to qualify for Qatar.

This defeat left the team six points adrift of second-placed Switzerland in Group C. With only three games left, there seems little chance of earning a play-off place.

‘We’ve got to lick our wounds now and get ready for Bulgaria,’ said Baraclough.

Ian Baraclough must deliver the mother of all pep talks when Northern Ireland face Bulgaria

‘We have to put ourselves in a position where if the Swiss slip up, we can capitalise.’

Jamal Lewis’s hugely controversial 37th-minute sending-off overshadowed the game. Referee Slavko Vincic’s decision to show a second yellow card for time-wasting in the first half proved pivotal.

Northern Ireland had already effectively one arm tied behind their backs at the Stade de Geneve after seven players — including Jonny Evans, Corry Evans, Ali McCann and Shayne Lavery — were ruled out.

Jamal Lewis was shown a second yellow card for taking too long over a throw-in in 36th minute

‘You can’t knock the spirit or the camaraderie, the togetherness of the team,’ added Baraclough.

‘We knew we would leave gaps the longer the game went on, but the players have given absolutely everything. They’ve put bodies on the line and put us in a position going into the last few minutes.’

‘You need those leaders. I’d much rather lose by two or three goals than to not have a go and try to do something about the one goal.’

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