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Thursday 26 Mar 2020
Michael O'Neill: Northern Ireland manager urges fans to support each other

Today I should have been preparing the Northern Ireland team to face Bosnia and Herzegovina in the Path B play-off semi-final of the Euro 2020 qualifiers.

That game in Zenica has, of course, been postponed due to the coronavirus outbreak, while the Euro 2020 Final Tournament scheduled for this June and July has also fallen by the wayside due to this terrible disease. It will now be staged next year instead.

While both the squad and myself are disappointed not to be in action today, with the opportunity to play the Path B final back in Belfast next week against either Slovakia or Republic of Ireland, we are all conscious of the fact we are in the midst of a global crisis.

Football players, managers and coaches are not immune to the potential effects of this deadly virus. We have family members and friends who are classed as vulnerable. We care for them deeply and don’t want them to come to any harm.

We can help to keep our loved ones safe by working together in tackling the spread of Covid-19 and following the guidelines issued by the Government and the health authorities. It is in everyone’s best interests to do so.

The match against Bosnia and Herzegovina has been rescheduled for June. It may or may not take place then.

I am sure that when it eventually does go ahead we will be able to count on your support as we once again strive to qualify for a major tournament.

In the meantime, though, we all need each other’s help and support. Please keep in touch with friends and family by using remote technology such as phone, internet and social media.

Stay at home if you can. If you do have to go outside please ensure it is only to get food or that it’s for health reasons or essential work.

And if you go outside to exercise – once a day is permitted – then make sure you observe the rules by staying two metres (six feet) away from other people.  And don’t forget to wash your hands as soon as you get home.

If we all follow the rules then hopefully it won’t be too long before you, the GAWA, get to sing your hearts out again. I very much look forward to that day.

Stay safe. 

Michael O’Neill, Northern Ireland Manager