Kyle Lafferty has backed Northern Ireland to go “the whole way” at Euro 2016 after his side were paired with Wales in the last 16.
Northern Ireland qualified for the second round as one of the best third-placed teams in the tournament, with a 2-0 win over Ukraine their key result in the group stage.
Lafferty believes that facing Gareth bale and his Wales team-mates in Paris on Saturday will be a challenge, but there is no reason why Northern Ireland cannot go far in the tournament with a bit of luck.
“Wales will be a tough game,” said Lafferty. “They have world-class players.
“With our heart and determination, we believe we can beat anyone. I think we can go the whole way. It might take some luck – but every team needs luck. We’ll upset a few teams.”
His side’s top scorer in qualifying, Lafferty has not scored at Euro 2016 yet and added that the Northern Ireland defence needs a lot of credit for their solid work at the back.
“I’m yet to get off the mark in the tournament,” said the striker. “I know I’ll get opportunities to score in the [Wales] game, it’s up to me if I take them or not.
“I believe we’ve got one of the best defences in the tournament. They haven’t been given enough praise.”
A member of that defence is 36-year-old defender Aaron Hughes, who conceded that Bale will be a big threat in Saturday’s match, the Real Madrid star having scored in all three group games for Chris Coleman’s side.
“Obviously, Gareth Bale is a very big part of their team,” Hughes said. “We’ll have a look at it, and look at areas where we can exploit them.
“You get to come up against some of the best players in the world in a tournament like this.”