Michael O’Neill is back in the Northern Ireland hot-seat and should steer his troops to a win over San Marino with relative ease in their Euro 2024 qualifier on Thursday evening.
- San Marino have never scored against Northern Ireland in four past meetings
- Northern Ireland have scored 14 goals in four games against the minnows
- San Marino have scored just once in 15 games
- Northern Ireland have won just three times in 13 games
San Marino vs Northern Ireland – Verdict
San Marino have never won a competitive game and have just a 1-0 friendly win against Liechtenstein in 2004 as their sole victory.
They are 211th and bottom of the FIFA world rankings and really should be made to pre-qualify for the European Championship and World Cup qualifiers.
They have scored just once in 15 games and face a Northern Ireland side back under the stewardship of Michael O’Neill. He was reappointed in December a little over two and a half years after leaving the post for Stoke.
O’Neill is only the third manager ever to lead the country to a major tournament, when they successfully qualified for UEFA Euro 2016. But they face a major task in adding to that after being drawn with Denmark, Finland and Slovenia in Group H.
Northern Ireland are ranked 59 and were beaten 3-1 by Greece in the Nations League in September. But Greece, ranked 51st in the world, are world’s apart from a San Marino side, who are officially the worst team in world football.
With a much tougher assignment lying in wait against Finland on Sunday, O’Neill will be looking to get off to a flying start. He will have to use a lot of his younger, inexperienced players, though, with a handful of his big names injured.
That should not hold back Ireland too much and the chance to impress and cement a place in the team might be the spark the likes of Conor McMenamin need.
Uncapped quartet Isaac Price, Eoin Toal, Sean Goss and Cameron McGeehan will be champing at the bit and NI could get the hard work done in the first half in Serravalle.
- Northern Ireland to win to nil – 3/10
- San Marino vs Northern Ireland, first-half goals over 2.5 – 10/3
- Northern Ireland to win both halves – 4/11
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