31 | 10 | 17
Did you know - Northern Ireland vs Switzerland
DID YOU KNOW?
1. Steven Davis will have two reasons to celebrate if he captains his country to Russia 2018. His next appearance in a green and white shirt will be his 100th for Northern Ireland. After making his debut against Canada over 12 years ago, the Southampton maestro is also the nation’s joint-tenth highest goalscorer with ten goals.
2. Northern Ireland are aiming to reach their first World Cup finals since 1986 and compete in successive major tournaments for the first time in their history.
3. Chris Brunt’s international career began the last time Northern Ireland met Switzerland in 2004. The left-sided player was granted his debut by Lawrie Sanchez as a late substitute for Stuart Elliott. Thirteen years later, he now has 63 caps.
4. The only other current members of the Northern Irish squad involved in that goalless draw in Zurich were veterans Roy Carroll and Aaron Hughes, who both started.
5. Having soared to a highest-ever FIFA World Ranking of 20th last month, back-to-back defeats have seen Northern Ireland slip back down to (an albeit still very impressive) 23rd.
6. Switzerland are 11th in the rankings, which is in no small part thanks to the country’s FIFA Under-17 World Cup success in Nigeria in 2009. Several members of that side, such as Arsenal midfielder Granit Xhaka and AC Milan defender Ricardo Rodriguez, are hitting their prime and have become mainstays in the senior team.
7. Gareth McAuley’s appearance in Norway saw him join the top ten highest-capped players in Northern Ireland history. By making his 74th outing, the West Bromwich Albion centre-half replaced 1982 and 1986 World Cup legend, and current assistant manager, Jimmy Nicholl in tenth. McAuley made his debut against Germany in June 2005.
8. Last month’s defeat by World Cup holders Germany was Northern Ireland’s first competitive home reverse for more than four years.
9. Oliver Norwood earned his milestone 50th cap against Norway. The midfielder has yet to score for his country.
10. Switzerland are aiming to qualify for their 11th World Cup, having previously reached the finals in 1934, 1938, 1950, 1954, 1962, 1966, 1994, 2006, 2010 and 2014. They have reached the quarter-finals on three occasions, but the last time was over 60 years ago, as hosts of the 1954 tournament.