Sanchez to manage Northern Ireland

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The Independent Football

Lawrie Sanchez was yesterday handed the job of reviving Northern Ireland's fortunes. The former Wycombe Wanderers manager has agreed a two-year-deal with the province, beating off competition from the favourite, the Dunfermline assistant manager, Jimmy Nicholl.

The Irish Football Association President, Jim Boyce, said: "Following a meeting of the full international committee, I am pleased to announce the appointment of Lawrie Sanchez as the new manager of the Northern Ireland international team.

"Mr Sanchez has been appointed on a full-time basis for a two year period covering the World Cup qualifying series."

Sanchez has often defied the odds. As manager of Wycombe, he took the Second Division side to the FA Cup semi-finals. As a player, he scored the Wembley winner for Wimbledon in 1988 against Liverpool. His tenure at Wycombe came to a depressing end after four and half years last September.

Sanchez replaces Sammy McIlroy, who resigned to join Stockport at the end of the Euro 2004 qualifying campaign, which saw them finish bottom of the group and without a goal in 1,242 minutes.

He has been given the task of guiding Northern Ireland through a difficult World Cup qualifying campaign, which will see them face England, Wales, Austria, Poland and Azerbaijan. Sanchez's first match in charge will be against Norway in a friendly at Windsor Park on February 18.