Berlin (AFP) – Kyle Lafferty says Northern Ireland must ‘work their socks off’ in Tuesday’s World Cup qualifier against Germany as they chase a first victory over the world champions for 33 years.
Lafferty scored two goals off the bench in Saturday’s 4-0 win over minnows San Marino in Belfast, the same night Germany beat the Czech Republic 3-0 in Hamburg to keep their perfect record at the top of Group C.
Northern Ireland are unbeaten after their two qualifiers, having also held the Czech Republic to a goalless draw in Prague last month, but Lafferty expects a tough night in Hanover.
“It’s going to be a totally different match,” said the striker, who has scored nine times in his last 11 qualifiers for Northern Ireland.
“We had a lot of ball and opportunities against San Marino, we’ll see a lot less of the ball and we’ll have to work our socks off against Germany.
“It’s going to take a good Northern Irish performance to pull us through.”
It’s been 33 years since Northern Ireland last beat Germany — home or away.
It was in November 1983 that Norman Whiteside’s goal sealed a 1-0 win over West Germany in a European championships qualifier – Northern Ireland’s only win on German soil.
Coach Michael O’Neill says anything they can take off Joachim Loew’s Germany will be a bonus.
“We go to Germany and have a game with everything to gain. Anything we can take will be a huge bonus,” said O’Neill.
Germany beat the Irish 1-0 in their Euro 2016 pool match in June and Loew’s side is buoyed by an impressive win over the Czechs.
Thomas Mueller netted twice, leaving him with four goals in two matches after also netting twice in Oslo in last month’s 3-0 win over Norway in their opening qualifier.
– ‘Sugar-sweet’ –
Mueller’s goals sealed the three points, but centre-backs Mats Hummels and Jerome Boateng were also outstanding — solid in the tackle, the producing superb diagonal passes to turn defence into attack.
“It was like they were having a battle to see who could put in the best pass,” quipped Germany’s captain Manuel Neuer.
“The passes from both of them were outstanding – they put in some real sugar-sweet balls,” enthused defender Benedikt Hoewedes.
“It meant they could take a few of their players out of the game.”
Boateng and left-back Jonas Hector picked up knocks, but both are expected to be fit to face the Irish.
Loew has said Germany needs “the same determination, the same amount of running and the same precision in our passes” against Northern Ireland and Boateng expects a ‘difficult’ game.
“They definitely won’t attack going forwards like the Czechs did, we will have to be quick on the wings and get our combinations working well,” said Boateng.
Surprise-package Azerbaijan and Germany are the only teams in the group who still have 100 percent records after two games.
Having suffered away defeats to Poland and the Republic of Ireland in qualifying for Euro 2016, Hummels says their target is to finish 2016 with 12 qualifying points.
That means victories over the Irish, then away to San Marino on November 11 in their final qualifier of 2016.
“We decided to do things differently for this qualification campaign,” said Hummels.
“We want to make things clear on Tuesday and have 12 points by the end of November.”
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