MOSCOW, September 6 (RIA Novosti)
Northern Ireland are in an optimistic mood ahead of their World Cup qualifier with Russia in Moscow, coach Michael O'Neill said Thursday.
The match is the first competitive game in charge for both O'Neill and his opposite number, new Russia coach Fabio Capello.
"We're looking forward to it with optimism rather than the burden of expectation," O'Neill said of his team's outsider status.
"We've done a lot of background research on Russia and we're comfortable with where we are at this point in time."
English Premier League talent in the Northern Ireland team such as Southampton's Steven Davis and Manchester United's Jonny Evans will be able to cope with the pressure of a big foreign fixture, O'Neill said.
"We have a spine of players who have a lot of experience of playing the game as internationals, at the top level and they will be able to cope with this kind of fixture."
In the second round of games, Northern Ireland face Luxembourg at home on Tuesday, while Russia take on Israel away.
Add to blog
You may place this material on your blog by copying the link.
Image Galleries: Yury Gagarin: A down-to-earth person
Infographics: The Linguistic Diversity of the Planet
During Vladimir Putin’s annual Q&A session some members of the Valdai International Discussion Club asked him several questions. How united is the West in its desire to punish Russia? Which EU countries are in favour of isolating Russia? Is this even possible? And what is going on in Ukraine?