31/03/2005

Honeymoon period ends for Sanchez

The honeymoon period for Northern Ireland manager Lawrie Sanchez is finally over after his side suffered its second defeat in five days after going down 1-0 to Poland in Warsaw on Wednesday night.

Unlike Saturday’s second-half mauling at the hands of England, Maciej Zurawski's 85th minute winner was pretty harsh on the visitors who had put up stubborn resistance for the majority of the game as well as creating a number of opportunities of their own.

However, similar to Saturday goalkeeper Maik Taylor was the hero for the away side as he produced a number of world class saves which ensured a nervy finish for the Poles who continue to stay hot on the heels of Group Six leaders England.

For Northern Ireland, it is another disappointing result which leaves any hopes of qualifying for the 2006 World Cup in tatters.

Lawrie Sanchez, however, said his side won’t just be making up numbers for the remainder of the campaign.

"We're not going to catch Poland now,” Sanchez said. “What we need to do is finish as high as we can in our little group of Azerbaijan, Wales and maybe Austria so in the next campaign we come out of the hat seeded a bit higher.

"There is plenty to play for but it's been a disappointing 10 days summed up by the last 10 minutes."

Northern Ireland’s next game is a friendly with Germany at Windsor Park as part of the IFA’s 125th anniversary celebrations.

(MB/SP)

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