Northern Ireland played a friendly game against Panama before the World Cup and Michael O’Neill claimed that it was clearly visible how much this tournament means to them even before it started.
The national team coach still believes that England will be simply too strong for the Central Americans but the Albion will need to score an early goal to avoid the complications they had against Tunisia.
O’Neill spoke about the upcoming game as he said, according to The Guardian:
“When we played, the ground was virtually sold out, there were fireworks before the game, kids on the pitch and all sorts going on. You quickly realised what a big moment this is for them, to be in the World Cup. So they’ll play with a great passion.”
“Hopefully you score early and that takes a bit of the anxiety out of the situation. Once Belgium scored, spaces started to open up that hadn’t been there in the first half because Panama had to change their gameplan. The best chance they’ll really have to trouble England, and this has been a feature of the World Cup, would be a set piece. I think England will have too much for them.”