Stalemate In Basel As Northern Ireland Miss Out On Final Berth

Pass master Oliver Norwood and Swiss ace Danis Zakaria

MICHAEL O'NEILL HAS not given his future with Northern Ireland "any thought" after Switzerland ended their World Cup dream last night.

That suited the Swiss just fine after their 1-0 win on Thursday in Belfast, and 0-0 draw was enough to see Switzerland punch their ticket to Russian Federation 2018.

"I'm not giving it any thought". I think we were the better team.

O'Neill said: "They couldn't have given any more; what they gave for me, what they gave each other, what they gave for the country was phenomenal.

My focus is with the players in the dressing room", O'Neill told Sky Sports after the match.

"To discuss the penalty, and whether it was a penalty or not, it is the decision of the referee and not of interest to us".

The tie was decided by Ricardo Rodriguez's controversial penalty in Belfast as Michael O'Neill's team failed in their bid to reach back-to-back major tournaments for the first time.

"We were the better team". We had to ride our luck at times but we were pushing until the 94th minute.

"There's a devastated bunch of players in there, but I couldn't be any prouder of their efforts".

"Tonight we played with raw courage", O'Neill added.

It felt like the end of an era in Basel on Sunday, where at least four veteran players - Aaron Hughes, Gareth McAuley, Chris Brunt and Jamie Ward - may have pulled on the green jersey for the final time. We deserve to be in extra-time, but it hasn't happened for us.

"We have some good young players coming through and we have players with a lot of experience as well".

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