Northern Ireland Nations League’s first win in Kosovo eased fears of relegation and pressure on Ian Baraclough… but relegation to European level of minnows remains a real possibility
- Northern Ireland won their first Nations League match with a win over Kosovo
- However, they play against Greece in Athens on Tuesday and can still be relegated
- Ian Baraclough’s team must match or improve on Cyprus’ result in Kosovo to stay on their feet
- Baraclough admitted his side is ‘far from the finished article’ despite the win
The Nations League’s first win in Northern Ireland eased the pressure on manager Ian Baraclough, but they still face the very real prospect of relegation to League D on Tuesday.
Baraclough’s team will face Greece in Athens on Tuesday and will have to match or improve on Cyprus’ result in Kosovo after Cypriot group leaders stunned Greece with a 1-0 win in Larnaca on Saturday.
Gavin Whyte equalized for Northern Ireland and Josh Magennis’ header in the 93rd minute gave them a 2-1 win in front of 17,000 in Belfast.
Josh Magennis scored Northern Ireland’s late winner in Nations League game against Kosovo
Irish boss Ian Baraclough admitted his side is ‘not the finished article’ and ‘still building’
Baraclough said: “Every win means something, but a win in the Nations League, the first we’ve had, I’m very happy about that.
“It gives us a platform to build on. We know we are not the finished article, but we are still building and trying to bring in young players. Those players form a competitive team.’
If Northern Ireland is relegated, they will face San Marino, Andorra and Liechtenstein in their next campaign.
Substitute Gavin Whyte scored Northern Ireland’s equalizer with less than ten minutes to play
Goalkeeper Bailey Peacock-Farrell has been told he must regain his place at club level
Baraclough suggested goalkeeper Bailey Peacock-Farrell may have to leave Burnley in January to keep his place.
He has been Northern Ireland’s No. 1 since 2018 and a series of crucial saves kept his side in the game, but at club level he is behind Aro Muric, who was in goal for Kosovo on the other side.
With Conor Hazard and Luke Southwood set to take over, Baraclough admitted: “He knows he has competition. If the next (international) window is March, he has six months to join the team or continue in January.”