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"We can win two games" | Baraclough confident of Euro 2020 qualification


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New Northern Ireland boss Ian Baraclough admits that he is very excited by the prospect of qualifying for a major finals with just two match wins.

Last Saturday the IFA confirmed that the former Sligo Rovers boss would replace Michael O'Neill as manager of the senior international team after an impressive three year stint managing the under-21 side.

O'Neill guided the seniors to a play-off semi-final against Bosnia and Herzegovina - which they must overcome to progress to a decider against either Stephen Kenny's Republic of Ireland or Slovakia.

Baraclough is in no doubt that his team can overcome the first hurdle.

"It's not [a challenge] that I fear. It's one that's got me excited," Baraclough told Sky Sports News.

"We can win two games of football if we're prepared right and if we go into it with the right frame of mind, away from home to Bosnia."

O'Neill has told Baraclough that he is available at any time for advice as he prepares his squad for the play-off semi-final.

The new manager will also be familiar with his surroundings having travelled to Bosnia on behalf of O'Neill in preparation for the tie.

"We were building towards for the Bosnia game and he was bringing me into the staff on that," said Baraclough.

"I'd been out to Bosnia, I looked at the hotels, preferable hotels. I'd looked at training facilities if we need to train out there. A lot of our preparation is going to be done here at home.

"It was important that I knew the landscape and relayed that back to Michael."

Northern Ireland were beaten twice by their semi-final opponents in the UEFA Nations League in 2018; 2-1 at home and 2-0 away.

Baraclough believes that O'Neill's team showed they were more than a match for Bosnia in those games and feels they will be helped by the fact that there most likely will be no supporters in the stadium.

"We don't fear that. We've had the experience of playing them twice in the last couple of years in the Nations League. We felt as though we should have won those games," said Baraclough.

"We still think there won't be any fans allowed into the ground in October. We've seen since we've started back in the Premier League, that's been a great leveller.

"For us to go to Bosnia and hopefully get over that hurdle, [then] we'll look forward to a game against either Slovakia or the Republic of Ireland but we don't want to look to far ahead."


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Euro 2020 Ian Baraclough Michael O'Neill Northern Ireland Republic Of Ireland Stephen Kenny

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