Kyle Lafferty lauded Michael O’Neill’s motivational techniques by declaring that every Northern Ireland player would “sweat blood for him” following the 4-0 hammering of Azerbaijan.
Northern Ireland have enjoyed an upswing in fortunes since O’Neill’s appointment in December 2011, as they rose from as low as 129th in the FIFA rankings the following year before peaking at 25th in June.
O’Neill also guided them to their first European Championship finals this year and, following Friday’s impressive 4-0 win in Belfast, they look well placed to qualify for a first World Cup since 1986.
Lafferty told reporters: “If you look back six, seven years ago, this is the sort of game we’d have struggled to get up for. But now we beat these sorts of teams more often than not.
“With Michael O’Neill everyone wants to play for him. Everyone would sweat blood for him.
“We’ve nothing to worry about [in terms of not qualifying for the World Cup] if we keep playing like we are.”
Northern Ireland are second in Group C after four matches, five points behind leaders Germany.
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