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Thursday 08 Feb 2024
O’Neill ‘pleased’ with Nations League draw

Michael O’Neill said he was “pleased” with today’s UEFA Nations League draw which has pitted Northern Ireland against Luxembourg, Bulgaria and Belarus.

He admitted he wanted to avoid Sweden and Romania as he felt they were the strongest teams in pot one for the League C draw. Luxembourg and Armenia were the other teams in the first pot.

The Northern Ireland senior men’s team manager also said he is looking forward to the League C Group 3 matches this autumn.

“I think they will be good games for the young squad that we have at the minute. It will be a test for them as part of their development as international players,” he pointed out.

Luxembourg are top seeds in the group, while Bulgaria are second seeds. Northern Ireland were in Pot 3 in today’s draw staged in Paris, while Belarus were in the fourth pot.

O’Neill said Luxembourg have been improving year on year and have a lot of consistency in their play, while Bulgaria will be keen to do well.

Looking forward to this autumn’s Group C campaign, the manager added: “We have to make sure that we develop as a team and try and get ourselves to the next level.

“I think everyone knows we’ve got a new team, a very young team. We have to develop this group of players going forward, we have to introduce some new players into the group as well, and the Nations League will give us more opportunity to do that ahead of the World Cup qualifiers next March.”

The fixtures in C3 will be determined soon, however matchday one will be between 5 and 7 September and matchday two will be between 8 and 10 September.

The other matchdays will be as follows: MD3: 10-12 October; MD4: 13-15 October; MD5: 14-16 November; MD6: 17-19 November.