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New deal gives O'Neill 'another go at the World Cup'

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Northern Ireland boss Michael O’Neill says he wants “another go” at the World Cup, after signing a four-year contract extension.

The 48-year-old, who recently turned down the opportunity to succeed Gordon Strachan as Scotland manager, will remain in charge until 2024.

That covers two European Championship campaigns as well as the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

O’Neill’s deal is the longest and most lucrative in the Irish FA’s history.

“The overriding factor was quite simply that I didn’t want to leave the job,” he told BBC Sport NI on Friday.

“I had a period of time to reflect after the Switzerland game and the disappointment of missing out but I believe this is the right place for me to be and even after six years in the job, I’m as excited in it going forward as I was on day one.”

Northern Ireland finished second behind Germany in their World Cup qualifying group for this year’s finals in Russia, before being controversially beaten by Switzerland in the play-offs.

“It would have been wonderful to go to the World Cup, no doubt about that and this contract will give me the opportunity to have another go at that,” O’Neill added.

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“Much has been made that for the players it would be their final hooray – but I don’t think that’s the case. I think the players believe that they’ve got another campaign in them as well and the belief has to be that we can qualify for Euro 2020.”

The former international midfielder had talks with the Scottish FA but last month revealed his decision to stay on as Northern Ireland manager, after six years in charge.

The highlight of his tenure so far was reaching the last 16 of the Euro 2016 tournament in France.

And ahead of the defeat in the World Cup play-off last November, thanks to a controversial penalty in the first leg, Northern Ireland moved to their highest ever position in the Fifa world rankings.

“My challenge is to maintain it, for a country of our size to get to twentieth in the world in the Fifa rankings, you only have to look at the size of the countries that are below us, in terms of population and finance. We should be very proud of what we’ve achieved but we have to maintain the level that we’re at.”

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New deal gives O'Neill 'another go at the World Cup'

Media playback is not supported on this device

Northern Ireland boss Michael O’Neill says he wants “another go” at the World Cup, after signing a four-year contract extension.

The 48-year-old, who recently turned down the opportunity to succeed Gordon Strachan as Scotland manager, will remain in charge until 2024.

That covers two European Championship campaigns as well as the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

O’Neill’s deal is the longest and most lucrative in the Irish FA’s history.

“The overriding factor was quite simply that I didn’t want to leave the job,” he told BBC Sport NI on Friday.

“I had a period of time to reflect after the Switzerland game and the disappointment of missing out but I believe this is the right place for me to be and even after six years in the job, I’m as excited in it going forward as I was on day one.”

Northern Ireland finished second behind Germany in their World Cup qualifying group for this year’s finals in Russia, before being controversially beaten by Switzerland in the play-offs.

“It would have been wonderful to go to the World Cup, no doubt about that and this contract will give me the opportunity to have another go at that,” O’Neill added.

Media playback is not supported on this device

“Much has been made that for the players it would be their final hooray – but I don’t think that’s the case. I think the players believe that they’ve got another campaign in them as well and the belief has to be that we can qualify for Euro 2020.”

The former international midfielder had talks with the Scottish FA but last month revealed his decision to stay on as Northern Ireland manager, after six years in charge.

The highlight of his tenure so far was reaching the last 16 of the Euro 2016 tournament in France.

And ahead of the defeat in the World Cup play-off last November, thanks to a controversial penalty in the first leg, Northern Ireland moved to their highest ever position in the Fifa world rankings.

“My challenge is to maintain it, for a country of our size to get to twentieth in the world in the Fifa rankings, you only have to look at the size of the countries that are below us, in terms of population and finance. We should be very proud of what we’ve achieved but we have to maintain the level that we’re at.”

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BBC Sport – Football

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