Northern Ireland play-off two games Switzerland didn’t want – Magennis
2018 World Cup play-off first leg: Northern Ireland v Switzerland
Venue: National Stadium, Belfast Date: Thursday, 9 November Kick-off: 19:45 GMT
Coverage: Radio Ulster commentary, live text, report and reaction on the BBC Sport website

Northern Ireland striker Josh Magennis is convinced the squad will be able to handle the pressure of the World Cup play-off against Switzerland.

Michael O’Neill’s side host the Swiss on Thursday with the return leg in Basel on Sunday as they aim for a first World Cup finals since 1986.

“The weight of the country is on our shoulders but we’ve proved before we can carry that weight,” said Magennis.

“We have full confidence that we can find a way of winning these games.”

Charlton striker Magennis says the squad can embrace and indeed harness the support of the Northern Ireland public as they aim to clinch the country’s first consecutive qualifications for major tournaments.

Northern Ireland ended a 30-year wait for a finals appearance as they reached Euro 2016 and Magennis, 27, wants to again experience the wave of emotion which greeted that achievement.

“We didn’t realise the magnitude of [qualifying for] France until we were here about to go and social media-wise and media-wise, it was just everywhere.

“What it did for the country, not just ourselves, was basically unite people for about a month. It was absolutely massive.”

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Asked about how Northern Ireland are going to tactically set up against the Swiss, Magennis joked: “If I tell you, I’d have to kill you.”

However, the Charlton forward revealed the management have conducted several video sessions this week on the Swiss, who narrowly missed out on automatic qualifying after a closing defeat by European champions Portugal ended a 100% run in their group.

“The video analysis has shown a lot of their strengths and a couple of their weaknesses.

“It’s up to us to try to prevent those strengths coming through. Hopefully we can capitalise on their weaknesses like we have done against many teams before.

“We know they will probably think they should have gone through automatically and will have a point to prove as well. But they are preparing for two games that they didn’t want.”

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