Euro 2020 qualifiers: Dutch scalp would be 'fitting home finale' for O'Neill - Smith

Michael Smith and Memphis Depay
Smith has identified Memphis Depay as the Netherlands

Michael Smith has said a Northern Ireland win over the Netherlands would be a "fitting finale" if it is Michael O'Neill's final home game in charge.

O'Neill was appointed as manager of Stoke City last week but will remain in charge of NI for the rest of their Euro 2020 qualifying campaign.

NI take on the Netherlands at Windsor Park on Saturday ahead of the final Group game away to Germany on Tuesday.

"Michael mentioned that he doesn't have a big scalp on his CV," said Smith.

"How fitting would it be to send him off on Saturday with that final tick on his list. His move was going to happen sooner or later and all the players are delighted for him.

"We will go out there to do all we can to get the three points against the Dutch. If we can do that then we will go to Germany with a real chance of qualifying.

"We know that it will not be easy as they are a very good side, but stranger things have happened. We have a job in hand and have been preparing all week for the game."

Michael Smith and Memphis Depay
Depay scored the Netherlands' equalier in the 3-1 win in Rotterdam

Smith revealed that he is fully fit for the double header despite having picked up an injury while playing for his club before joining up with the international squad.

The former Bristol Rovers player started last month's qualifier defeat by the Netherlands in Rotterdam, when two injury-time goals grabbed a win for the hosts after Northern Ireland had taken the lead in the 75th minute.

Dutch boss Ronald Koeman labelled O'Neill's side as "outrageous and terrible to watch" after the match and Smith feels that will add an extra edge to Saturday's encounter.

"I think there is no doubt that his comments will add fuel to the fire for the players," Smith continued.

"We have watched that game back and they really didn't create many chances, despite having a lot of possession, and that gives us confidence.

"We were really good in the first half without the ball although we maybe tired a little in the second half, but we know it will be different this time around."

Northern Ireland are currently third in Group C, three points behind the Dutch leaders after winning their first four games and losing their last two outings.

The top two teams in the group qualify for the Euro finals automatically, while the third-placed team has a chance of reaching the playoffs.

Top Stories

Also in NI Sport