The Green and White Army last played on the world stage in 1986 in Mexico, but, having reached the finals of Euro 2016 last year, they will be confident in their ability to defy the odds.
Switzerland, on the other hand, are familiar with major tournaments and they have reached the finals of the last three World Cups, reaching the last 16 in 2006 and 2014.
|Game||Northern Ireland vs Switzerland|
|Date||Thursday, November 9|
|Time||19:45 GMT / 14:45 ET|
TV CHANNEL & LIVE STREAM
In the United Kingdom (UK) and Ireland, the match will be available to watch live on television on Sky Sports Football and by live stream via Sky Go.
|UK TV channel||Online stream|
|Sky Sports Main Event||Sky Go|
In the United States (US), the match will be available to watch live on television on ESPN 2 and by live stream using WatchESPN. ESPN 3 will also broadcast the game in full later in the day.
|US TV channel||Online stream|
SQUADS & TEAM NEWS
|Position||Northern Ireland players|
|Goalkeepers||Carroll, McGovern, Mannus|
|Defenders||Hughes, McAuley, J. Evans, Brunt, McLaughlin, Hodson, D. Lafferty, McNair, McArdle, Flanagan|
|Midfielders||Davis, McGinn, Norwood, C. Evans, Ferguson, Dallas, Paton, Lund, Saville, Jones|
|Forwards||K. Lafferty, Magennis, Ward, Washington|
Aaron Hughes is the chief concern for Northern Ireland, meaning that there could be a reshuffle in defence, while Paddy McNair has been passed fit but could be forced to contend with a place on the bench.
Potential Northern Ireland starting XI: McGovern; McLaughlin, McAuley, J. Evans, Brunt; Norwood, C. Evans, Davis, Dallas; K. Lafferty, Magennis.
|Goalkeepers||Sommer, Hitz, Burki|
|Defenders||Lichtsteiner, Lacroix, Elvedi, Akanji, Lang, Rodriguez, Schar|
|Midfielders||Frei, Xhaka, Behrami, Zakaria, Dzemaili, G. Fernandes, Zuber, Freuler, Shaqiri, E. Fernandes|
|Forwards||Embolo, Seferovic, Mehmedi, Gavranovic|
Former Arsenal defender Johan Djourou is perhaps the biggest absentee for Switzerland, but coach Vladimir Petkovic still has a formidable squad to choose from.
Potential Switzerland starting XI: Sommer; Lichtsteiner, Rodriguez, Lang; Xhaka, Freuler, Mehmedi, Dzemaili, Shaqiri; Seferovic.
BETTING & MATCH ODDS
Switzerland are favourites at 23/20 according to dabblebet, with Northern Ireland considered a 14/5 bet to win in Belfast. A draw between the teams is priced at 2/1.
Northern Ireland have enjoyed an incredible turnaround in fortunes since Michael O'Neill took over the reins and reaching a World Cup would permanently etch the former Shamrock Rovers manager's name into the history books.
Buoyed by their European Championship displays, Northern Ireland carried their good form into the qualification campaign for the 2018 World Cup and they finished second in a group containing Czech Republic and world champions Germany.
In Switzerland, they are coming up against a team that was on course to qualify directly for the World Cup ahead of European champions Portugal, but missed out only due to goal difference.
Indeed, with talent such as Shaqiri, Rodriguez and Xhaka in their ranks, the Swiss are rightfully considered favourites, but, under O'Neill, Northern Ireland have never paid much attention to the odds, so they will be confident that they can claim a positive result, particularly at Windsor Park.