Football: A solid foundation being laid for future

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The Independent Online
Northern Ireland completed their European Championship campaign with a 5-3 victory over Austria at Windsor Park on Wednesday, and although the win came too late to rescue hopes of reaching next summer's finals, Nigel Worthington believes there is plenty to build on for the World Cup qualifiers.

Worthington, the Northern Ireland captain, said: "We have started to lay the foundations. These are exciting times as there are so many good young players coming through."

Worthington, who won the first of his 61 caps in 1984, two years after the World Cup finals, said: "We were flying then. It was a wonderful time for all Irish supporters. I think we now have the potential to get back to that level. We just need to keep battling away and working hard."

The European Championship campaign may be over, but Bryan Hamilton, the Northern Ireland manager, is continuing his football education in Cyprus this weekend by attending a Uefa coaching course. "I have learned a lot. I think I have become a better coach and a better manager," he said.

"I feel there is a wind of change taking place in Northern Ireland football. Priority must be given to improve our coaching and development programme. We must be positive and committed in our approach to work longer and harder with all our young players."

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