World Cup 2018: Northern Ireland seeking more glory

Northern Ireland will be playing for the first time since their Euro 2016 defeat by Wales in Paris
Northern Ireland will be playing for the first time since their Euro 2016 defeat by Wales in Paris

Northern Ireland are hungry to reach another big tournament after getting to the Euro 2016 finals, says Chris Baird.

Michael O'Neill's side embark on their World Cup qualifying campaign away to the Czech Republic on Sunday.

Derby defensive midfielder Baird recently called time on his NI career, but backs the team for more success.

"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," said Baird.

"It is a big ask," added 34-year-old Baird, who was capped 79 times for his country.

"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."

Chris Baird won 79 caps during his Northern Ireland career
Chris Baird won 79 caps during his Northern Ireland career

With Germany the hot favourites to take the automatic qualifying spot in Group C, Northern Ireland could well be fighting for the runners-up spot with Norway and the Czech Republic.

Since 1950, Germany have failed to top their World Cup qualifying group on just two occasions, finishing second both times.

Northern Ireland manager O'Neill believes his side will be at the sharp end when qualifying concludes.

"We are playing the world champions and there is only one automatic qualifying spot. So it is going to be difficult but we have to be as competitive as we can," said O'Neill.

"We will be very reliant on the key players again, as we were in qualification and in France. The squad is in as good a place as it could possibly be to meet the challenge."

O'Neill, who has been in charge of his country since taking over from Nigel Worthington in 2011, echoes Baird's feelings on his squad's desire to reach Russia.

"They want to continue with it. When you have experienced being at a major finals it certainly whets your appetite and I think we see that in the fact that Baird is the only player not to go forward with the squad."

Northern Ireland will face a Czech Republic team in transition.

"They have a new coach and have had four or five players who have retired from international duty since France," added the NI boss.

"I look back at our Euro 2016 qualification and to come from behind as we did against Hungary and win that opening game just got the ball rolling.

"It got momentum, belief and confidence into the squad and we'll be aiming to do the same again."

Northern Ireland's 2018 World Cup qualifiers
4 September 2016Czech Republic (away)
8 OctoberSan Marino (home)
11 OctoberGermany (away)
11 NovemberAzerbaijan (home)
26 March 2017Norway (home)
10 JuneAzerbaijan (away)
1 SeptemberSan Marino (away)
4 SeptemberCzech Republic (home)
5 OctoberGermany (home)
8 OctoberNorway (away)

Scores, Results & Fixtures

Sunday 4th September 2016

As It Stood

A

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Belarus00000000
2Bulgaria00000000
3France00000000
4Luxembourg00000000
5Netherlands00000000
6Sweden00000000

B

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Andorra00000000
2Faroe Islands00000000
3Hungary00000000
4Latvia00000000
5Portugal00000000
6Switzerland00000000

C

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Germany11003033
2Azerbaijan11001013
3Czech Rep10100001
4Northern Ireland10100001
5San Marino100101-10
6Norway100103-30

D

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Austria00000000
2Georgia00000000
3Moldova00000000
4R. of Ireland00000000
5Serbia00000000
6Wales00000000

E

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Denmark11001013
2Kazakhstan10102201
3Poland10102201
4Montenegro10101101
5Romania10101101
6Armenia100101-10

F

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Scotland11005143
2England11001013
3Lithuania10102201
4Slovenia10102201
5Slovakia100101-10
6Malta100115-40

G

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Albania00000000
2Israel00000000
3Italy00000000
4Liechtenstein00000000
5Macedonia00000000
6Spain00000000

H

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Belgium00000000
2Bos-Herze00000000
3Cyprus00000000
4Estonia00000000
5Gibraltar00000000
6Greece00000000

I

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Croatia00000000
2Finland00000000
3Iceland00000000
4Kosovo00000000
5Turkey00000000
6Ukraine00000000
View full World Cup Qualifying - European tables

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