Lawrie predicts bright future
By Ben Blackmore
Last Updated: 01/01/70 1:00am
Northern Ireland boss Lawrie Sanchez insists his side are as good as Austria.
Northern Ireland manager Lawrie Sanchez was left frustrated but proud of his team after a night of disappointment in Austria.
The hosts emerged as 2-0 victors from a match that saw the Irish waste a host of opportunities, none more so than when David Healy shot wide when under no pressure in front of goal.
"You would have expected David to have put that one away but it was another night when we were out of luck," lamented Sanchez
"How many chances did we have before they scored? There were several. We huffed and puffed but then we got punished just before half time."
Rene Aufhauser grabbed both goals for the hosts, either side of an incident that saw Damien Johnson sent off for a reckless lunge on Emanuel Pogatetz.
The latter also saw red for his reaction, and Sanchez was unhappy with the Middlesbrough man's actions.
"He (Johnson) is a small man from Ireland while his opponent is a big man from Austria.
"If the Austrian player hadn't made such a fuss the referee would probably have only booked Damien. But because of his reaction the referee issued a red card.
"I have to admit though that the tackle was a bit rash."
The result means that the Irish finish fourth in Group Six, which is still a huge achievement considering that they sit above Wales and Azerbaijan.
And Sanchez, who addressed the travelling supporters at the end of the match, insists that Northern Ireland have a bright future on the international scene.
"The players have given everything they have. I don't think that is in question.
"It was just a shame that we have ended up losing but we have shown we are getting close to teams like Austria."