02/04/2009

Win Brings NI's World Cup Qualification Closer

Northern Ireland's World Cup dreams remain very much alive this week after fans at Windsor Park enjoyed a good-natured evening and a single goal victory to put them top of Group Three and in with a chance for South Africa.

Dundee United's Warren Feeney scored in the 73rd minute in this World Cup qualifier against Slovenia.

The extra police who were on hand in the wake of the trouble which marred Saturday's game against Poland weren't needed either as the event remained trouble-free.

Both sets of fans even took part in a minute's silence as a mark of respect for 19 football fans killed in a match stampede in Ivory Coast at the weekend.

And a spontaneous round of applause also greeted the playing of the Slovenian national anthem as the teams lined up before the match.
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Earlier on Wednesday, the world premiere of a film, the Green and White Army, the Fans' Story, was watched for the first time by an audience of specially invited guests.

The 'warts-and-all' documentary charts the transformation in supporting the Northern Ireland team from the dark days of sectarianism to the friendlier atmosphere at Windsor Park, which has become the envy of other international teams.

Told by the fans themselves, the film shared the story of the Football for All project and its tangible benefits on the terraces of the famous international venue.

Shown at the Odyssey Arena prior to the World Cup qualifier against Slovenia, Ulster-born Labour MP Kate Hoey and former Ireland rugby international Trevor Ringland - both avid Northern Ireland supporters who feature in the film - were in the audience.

Former internationals Ian Stewart and Glenn Ferguson, as well as supporters themselves, filled the seats at the Belfast cinema for this very special pre-match 'warm-up'.

(BMcC)

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