World Cup play-off: Home support crucial for Northern Ireland - Stuart Dallas

Stuart Dallas
Stuart Dallas joined Leeds from Brentford in 2015

Stuart Dallas says the Belfast support could spur Northern Ireland to a crucial first-leg home win in the World Cup play-off against Switzerland.

Michael O'Neill's men host the Swiss on Thursday with the return leg in Basel three days later.

"Windsor Park will be rocking and we do not fear anyone there. The support we get is crucial and it could be the difference," said midfielder Dallas.

"If we prepare and perform the best we can, we will have a good chance."

It is the first time Northern Ireland have been involved in play-off matches as they qualified automatically for the World Cups in 1958, 1982 and 1986, as well as for Euro 2016.

They have not qualified for a World Cup since Billy Bingham's boys in green made it to Mexico 31 years ago.

'We need good result at home' - Stuart Dallas

But O'Neill's current crop feel the experience of qualifying for last year's European Championship will be an advantage.

"We are under no illusions about how hard it is going to be - Switzerland have world-class players," said 26-year-old Leeds player Dallas.

"But we have a lot of experience, and playing at the Euros last year will stand us in good stead.

"We have played against world champions Germany and they don't come much bigger than that.

"I don't have the words to describe what it would mean to us and the people of Northern Ireland to get to the World Cup."

Switzerland had a 100% record in the group stages before a 2-0 defeat by Portugal in their final qualifier saw them miss out on top spot on goal difference.


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