Northern Ireland cling to World Cup Qualifying dreams

6th September 2009 | World Cup Betting category: World Cup Betting & Odds, World Cup Previews & Predictions
World Cup Betting & Odds

Nigel Worthington’s Northern Ireland are still clinging onto second place in Group 3, after failing to make serious indents into Slovakia as the leaders themselves drew their qualifying match. This leaves the Irish just two points behind Slovakia, who have a game in hand. Ireland could only manage a 1-1 draw away to Poland, but the point could prove vital in seeing the Irish hold onto second place. The fate of Northern Ireland could ultimately be out of their own hands, with third and fourth placed Poland and Slovenia respectively, just three points behind them, again each with a game in hand over the Irish. Worthington will know that this was their chance to put daylight between themselves and their rivals, and close the gap even more on Slovakia.

It was not to be however, and it makes the home fixture in Belfast on Wednesday night against Slovakia even juicier. There will be even more at stake, for the Irish could leap frog ahead of their opponents to the top of a group with a win, something that the home fans will be vociferously encouraging and willing on. It will be a perfect chance for the Irish to avenge their 2-1 away defeat in Bratislava in their opening qualifying fixture.

Striker Kyle Lafferty, who is set to miss Wednesday’s game through injury, put the visitors ahead in the first half. Poland could not find a reply until the 79th minute to break Irish hearts and hopes of gaining that all important victory. The Irish did have to soak up a lot of pressure, but their stout defending kept the Poles at bay for most of the game, even though the home side were dominant throughout most of the match. After the equalising goal, it was only the heroics of keeper Maik Taylor which prevented Poland from stealing all three points.

The point will be vital at this stage of the proceedings, but there will be disappointment in the Northern Ireland camp that they could not hold out for the victory. They will need to shake off any feelings of being hard done by though, for a much sterner test will come on Wednesday when Slovakia visit. The Slovaks arrive having been held by the Czech Republic, who are still in with an outside chance to grab second place, to a 2-2 draw.

Northern Ireland to win7/4 at PaddyPower
Draw9/4 at Bet365
Slovakia to win – 13/8 at Boylesports

Betting Tip: This could be the make or break game for Northern Ireland’s qualifying campaign. They cannot afford to lose this one, and even a draw will still leave hanging precariously and nervously in the balance. Not having been beaten at home so far will give the Irish some hope, but this will be a tough against a free scoring Slovakian team. Not too much between the two at the Bookies either, but hopefully the home crowd will just give the edge and Northern Ireland sneaks a 1-0 win 7/1 at SkyBet


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