Michael O’Neill has challenged Northern Ireland to maintain their qualifying form when they travel to France for Euro 2016.
A 1-1 draw with Finland on Sunday guaranteed top spot in Group F for Northern Ireland, having already secured their place at the finals for the first time on Thursday.
Craig Cathcart’s first international goal earned a point in Helsinki and O’Neill was full of praise for the way his squad have performed throughout the campaign.
Now O’Neill wants his players to maintain those levels to give them a chance of causing upsets at the finals.
“I think this group of players fully appreciate what they have achieved and will go to the finals and really embrace and enjoy it,” he said.
“However, we also go there with a point to prove and not only be competitive but to excel and take as much from the tournament as we can.”
It is the first time Northern Ireland have reached a major tournament since the 1986 World Cup and O’Neill believes they have fully deserved to end that wait.
He added: “We’re delighted to top the group and everyone in the dressing room feels exactly the same. We’ve certainly not got there by any good fortune.
“I genuinely believe we’re the best team in the group, the most effective team in the group and we finished as top scorers too. The players deserve enormous credit for that.”
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