Good Luck Northern Ireland

Good luck to Northern Ireland who will tonight bid to take a massive step towards qualification for next year’s FIFA World Cup in Russia.

They will host Switzerland in front of a packed Windsor Park in the first leg of their qualifier, secured after finishing behind Germany but ahead of Norway in their Group.

If they do come through it will be the first time in the country’s history that they will have qualified for back to back major tournaments.

Under Michael O’Neill their rise has been phenomenal, climbing from 129th in the Coca-Cola FIFA World Rankings to a current high of 23rd.

The board of the IFA stuck with O’Neill, despite becoming the first team to lose in qualifying to Luxembourg during his first campaign and the reward came in making it to France for last year’s Euro Finals and now standing on the brink of greater glory.

Sport for Business invited Senior Analyst Lisa Fallon to be part of our discussion on data at last month’s Predict Conference in the RDS where she gave us insight into how this success has been forged from a player group of only 41 professionals.

Tonight and Sunday represent the next stage in what has been a wonderful journey. We wish them every success and every bit of luck they might need to add to their preparation.

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