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WC Qualification Europe

  • October 16, 2013
  • • 01:00
  • • National Stadium Ramat Gan, Tel Aviv
  • Referee: L. Duhamel
  • • Attendance: 12785
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Israel - Northern Ireland Preview: O'Neill's men out to avoid wooden spoon

Israel - Northern Ireland Preview: O'Neill's men out to avoid wooden spoon

Oliver McVeigh/SPORTSFILE

Recent defeats to Azerbaijan and Luxembourg have left the Green and White Army languishing towards the bottom of Group F, with just six points accrued from nine matches

Israel and Northern Ireland will look to end their disappointing World Cup qualification campaigns on a positive note on Tuesday.

The sides meet in Ramat Gan with both unable to progress from Group F and with neither having tasted success in their last three qualifiers.

Northern Ireland have won just once in their nine matches and, while Israel gained a creditable draw in Portugal on Friday, they have won just three qualifiers - with two coming against bottom side Luxembourg and the other against Tuesday's opponents in Belfast back in March.

Michael O'Neill's men go into the game following a 2-0 defeat to Azerbaijan in Baku on Friday, in what was the hosts' first win in World Cup qualifying since beating Liechtenstein in October 2009.

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13/2 Northern Ireland are 13/2 with BetVictor to beat Israel
The defeat was compounded by the injury-time dismissal of defender Jonny Evans, who will miss Tuesday's game alongside Gareth McAuley and Oliver Norwood.

O'Neill highlighted after the match just how tough Group F has been for him and his squad.

"It's another harsh lesson, the players have made it difficult for themselves in this campaign," he told the media.

"I'm not going to turn around and say we've been progressing at a rate of knots. We're progressing in small steps and taking a few setbacks along the way. This was another one.

"Some of our performances have been good but we just have to live with the results and they've been poor, there's no getting away from that."

Israel will finish in third place in the pool behind Russia and Portugal regardless of the result on Tuesday, although Northern Ireland could slip to bottom with defeat or move up a place with a win.

O'Neill's men have conceded nine goals in their last three qualifiers and will be wary of Eli Guttman's side, who have scored in each of their last seven games.

Two of those came in Israel's 2-0 win over Northern Ireland at Windsor Park, with Lior Refaelov and Eden Ben Basat scoring one each in the last five minutes.

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