We will rise to occasion – O’Neill

first_img They have their own business to attend to, notably kicking off a campaign with three straight wins for the first time in their history. And O’Neill has seen enough in recent experiences to be sure they will not be sidetracked by events in the stands. “When you come away from home you expect it and I think we’ll rise to it, not be intimidated by it,” he said. “It’s not at all a concern for us, I actually prefer it that way. “The first game against Romania behind closed doors was difficult for Greece but I think our players would have found that scenario difficult too. “I think our side enjoyed the great atmosphere at Windsor Park when we beat the Faroe Islands on Saturday night and there was a great atmosphere when we beat Hungary in Budapest. “We’ve seen this group of players in front of 60,000 people in Uruguay too, so I don’t have any fears about that.” O’Neill was not keen to be drawn on his squad’s status as potential record breakers and would be more than happy to add another point to the six that have taken them to top spot in Group F. The home contingent are expected to provide a hostile welcome on Tuesday night having been banned from Greece’s Euro 2016 opener against Romania due to previous disturbances. Defeat in that match, followed by a draw in Finland, means there is plenty riding on the result for Claudio Ranieri’s outfit but O’Neill is convinced Northern Ireland will not be cowed by the occasion. Northern Ireland manager Michael O’Neill insists the Greek fans hold no fear for his side as they go in search of an historic victory in Athens. Press Association Curbing any excess exuberance is more his style but he could not deny being buoyed by the confidence that has entered the group. ”Our aim hasn’t changed just because we’ve had a good start and Greece have had a poor start, our objective is to try and finish in those top three positions,” he said. ”When we looked at the fixtures when they came out and our best chances of getting points this wouldn’t have been a game we would have looked at. ‘We’ve never said we think we can win the group or anything like that, but the belief is in this squad that they are more than capable of competing. “The start we’ve had has given us the belief that we can come here and add to our points tally.” O’Neill let his measured demeanour slip just once as he pondered stretching the 100 per cent record into a third game and joked: ”I think would expect some sort of plaque or statue for that if I’m honest.” Gareth McAuley, who would win his 50th cap, is the only serious injury doubt having collided with the post against the Faroe Islands, while Shane Ferguson and Niall McGinn could drop to the bench in favour of more defensive options. last_img