World Cup qualifier: Capello jibe fails to rile O'Neill

Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill has brushed aside a jibe from Russia counterpart Fabio Capello ahead of the World Cup qualifier.

The former England boss said in Moscow that he had "only two forwards.... but it's only Northern Ireland."

Asked if he found Capello's remarks disrespectful, O'Neill replied: "I don't dwell on those things."

He added: "Managers will have their opinions - it's our job to change those opinions with the display we put in."

The daunting Group F opener is O'Neill's first competitive game since taking over from Nigel Worthington.

The former Shamrock Rovers boss has had three friendlies in the build-up to the qualifying campaign, suffering heavy defeats by Norway and the Netherlands before the 3-3 draw at home to Finland in August.

Meanwhile, Northern Ireland defender Gareth McAuley has responded to reported comments by Russia striker Alexander Kerzhakov.

Kerzhakov reportedly told a press conference he had only recently been informed of Northern Ireland's existence.

"I have never heard of him either," said McAuley at a press conference on Thursday.

"You can see what it is like here - he's probably not been outside the country much. I don't know what the schools are like.

"We will see what he's got on the pitch."

O'Neill believes the time is right to take on the Russians after their disappointing Euro 2012 campaign and with a new manager in charge.

He says that hitting the hosts on the break provides the best route to success in the Group F opener in Moscow.

"When you are away from home you are rarely going to dominate possession of the ball, particularly against a side of this quality," said O'Neill.

"It is important we play from a good shape, a good game plan and it's important that we are able to capitalise in the final third when the opportunity arises.

"We've looked at Russia very closely from the Euro 2012 finals up to now and we feel that, given the circumstances, we are getting Russia at a good time."

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