Michael O’Neill expressed his delight as Northern Ireland were placed in the “more favourable side of the draw” for the Euro 2016 knockout stages.
Ireland finished third in Group C with three points, qualifying marginally ahead of Albania and Turkey for the knockout stages of the competition.
Their reward is a last-16 tie against Wales, while the likes of hosts France, world champions Germany and defending European champions Spain are not potential opponents until the final.
And O’Neill is delighted to avoid the majority big guns, while he is also relishing returning to Paris to face Wales at the Parc des Princes.
“It is going to be a fantastic game,” O’Neill said, regarding the clash with Wales.
“We will be heading back to the Parc des Princes which as we know from Tuesday night [a 1-0 defeat to Germany] is a brilliant stadium. We will benefit from the familiarity of having been there already, of having done the journey and of having played on the pitch.
“The results put us in what is arguably the more favourable side of the draw, so we are pleased about that.
“We are in no doubt that it is going to be a tough game against Wales but we will go into the match believing that we can win and that we can progress.”
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