Skip Navigation

The Irish FA


Release Date: 01/06/2012

NORTHERN Ireland manager Michael O’Neill knows his team can expect a tough game on Saturday night when they take on the Netherlands, a side currently ranked 4th in the world.

However, O’Neill believes that the international friendly at the Amsterdam Arena will be ‘excellent preparation’ for the upcoming World Cup qualifying campaign.


“This game is very important for us,” he said.  “I know that people look at friendly internationals and maybe think that they’re not significant; but in relation to this game, this is obviously Holland’s final preparation game before the Euro Finals so it’s much more important for them.  



"But from our own point-of-view we have two remaining preparation games (Holland on Saturday and Finland in August) before we start our World Cup qualifying campaign, so for us, it’s going to be a very, very tough game away to top class opposition ranked 4th in the world. 

“We’ll then have to go away to Russia and away to Portugal within the first three games of the World Cup campaign, so it’s excellent preparation from that point-of-view: A – the quality of the opposition; B – the type of atmosphere we are going to face and the stadium – all of those things are good preparation for us.”


O’Neill has included a number of younger players in the squad for the game – all of whom he has been very impressed with.  “Whilst we are down a few of our more experienced players for the game against the Netherlands, it provides an opportunity for some of our younger players to stake their claim going forward.


And when we bring some of our younger players into the squad we are giving ourselves maybe 35/40 players to pick from, so it’s important that we get to know them as well as possible before the World Cup qualifying campaign starts in September, so it’s an opportunity for us to do that.  I have been very impressed by all the young players. 


"I went to see the Under 21s play Macedonia earlier in May and I was very pleased with the performance.  And if these young players can break through at their clubs and continue to make inroads into first team football, then they’re always on the radar for us at international level.”


On Wednesday night, the Northern Ireland manager watched the Netherlands in action against Slovakia in Rotterdam (a game which they won 2-0); whilst his assistant manager Billy McKinlay was at last Saturday night’s game against Bulgaria in Amsterdam (which they lost 2-1).  O’Neill and his coaching staff know what exactly to expect on Saturday night and the international boss is hoping his players can make things difficult for the home side.


“We hope to be able to make life very difficult for Holland,” said O’Neill.  “When we go in against bigger opposition, we are obviously able to lift our game and I think history has shown that Northern Ireland have had a lot of good results in bigger games. 


"So I suppose, in those situations, when expectations are lower, players maybe enjoy the experience a bit more and also it’s an opportunity for players to prove themselves against this level of opposition.   Also I think the spirit which Northern Ireland has shown in these situations will always make them difficult opponents.”


Northern Ireland will be captained by Sammy Clingan.


The game at the Amsterdam Arena on Saturday kicks-off at 8.00pm (local time).

« Go Back

  • Amsterdam PR

    Sammy Clingan who will captain Northern Ireland on Saturday night and manager Michael O'Neill.

    Picture: Darren Kidd / Press Eye

  • Training at Amsterdam Arena - june 2012

    The Northern Ireland team pictured during tonight's training session at the Amsterdam Arena.

    Picture: Darren Kidd / Press Eye

  • Training at Amsterdam Arena - june 2012

    The Northern Ireland squad pictured during tonight's training session at the Amsterdam Arena ahead of Saturday night's international friendly against the Netherlands.

    Picture: Darren Kidd / Press Eye

  • Training at Amsterdam Arena - june 2012

    Northern Ireland's David Healy and Josh McQuoid arriving for training this evening at the Amsterdam Arena.

    Picture: Darren Kidd / Press Eye

Enter your NI Fans username and password to sign-in.

Forgotten your password?