After managing to excel at the Euro 2016, Northern Ireland are hungry for more successes and are looking towards qualifying for the World Cup 2018 according to Chris Baird.
Interestingly,Baird announced his retirement just after the Euro 2016 concluded. He has been a long-term serving player for the national team. Even though he has gone into the twilight with regard to international career, Ireland are hopeful of finding a successful replacement. They need to do so in order to achieve the objective of qualifying for the World Cup 2018.
The increase in the number of teams taking part in the finals of major tournaments has been a major factor towards the likes of Iceland and Northern Ireland qualifying to major tournaments. The World Cup 2018 also follows a similar path and it allows several new teams into the competition. Baird represented Northern Ireland in 79 games and he says that it will be a difficult objective, but the players remain confident after the recent exploits at the Euro 2016. The presence of hugely experienced Martin O’Neill has also provided them with a lot of confidence, but they could only get a 0-0 draw against Czech Republic in the opening qualification game.
The next couple of games will be very difficult as one of them involves world champions Germany.”They have a taste of it now and will want to continue that and progress. Hopefully we can qualify again and I don’t see why not.It is a big ask. We never get it easy and we always get some big team in there. We did it in the last campaign and you never know in football what will happen,” said Baird. Ireland will largely be targeting games against the likes of San Marino and Azerbaijan for a number of their target points.