Northern Ireland vs Belarus preview: Michael O'Neill's side look to continue perfect start
Watch Northern Ireland vs Belarus on Sky Sports Football and Main Event from 7.15pm on Sunday
Last Updated: 24/03/19 7:00pm
Northern Ireland will look to continue their fine start to their European Qualifiers campaign as they host Belarus on Sunday, live on Sky Sports.
Michael O'Neill's side, who failed to qualify for last summer's World Cup but did reach the last 16 at Euro 2016, beat Estonia 2-0 in Belfast on Thursday thanks to second-half goals from Niall McGinn and Steven Davis.
Belarus, meanwhile, were beaten 4-0 by Netherlands in their Group C opener on Thursday, but O'Neill still believes Sunday's match is likely to be more difficult than the Estonia game for his side.
"I think they'll possibly pose a greater threat, maybe counter-attacking wise and attacking wise, than Estonia did," he said. "We have to keep the performance level at the same level if not higher to get the result we hope for."
That win on Thursday was just Northern Ireland's first in their last eight competitive matches (D1 L7).
Corry Evans and Gavin Whyte will miss Northern Ireland's Euro 2020 qualifier against Belarus on Sunday through injury but Gareth McAuley has been passed fit.
The trio all sat out Thursday night's 2-0 win over Estonia, with Evans and McAuley carrying hamstring injuries and Whyte having a thigh problem.
"Gareth has come through and Gareth will be fine to be considered for tomorrow night," manager Michael O'Neill said on Saturday.
"Corry is not going to be fit and Gavin Whyte won't be fit so the only real change is Gareth."
- Northern Ireland will face Belarus in a competitive encounter for the very first time. Indeed, this will be just the second ever meeting between the sides, after the Green and White Army ran out 3-0 winners in a friendly back in May 2016.
- None of Northern Ireland's last 17 home games in all competitions have finished in a draw (W12 D0 L5) since a 1-1 draw with Hungary in September 2015.
- After an unbeaten run of six games in all competitions in which they didn't concede a single goal, Belarus lost their last match 0-4 against the Netherlands.
- Belarus are looking to avoid consecutive defeats in all competitions for the first time since November 2017 (a run of five).
- 10 of Steven Davis' 12 goals for Northern Ireland have been scored in home games. The skipper has netted in two of his last three at Windsor Park for the Green and White Army.
There is not much difference between the two teams. I can recall them playing in a different way so that will match them up, making it harder for both teams to break each other down. Fortune has favoured Northern Ireland by handing them their opening two qualifying games at home, I expect them to get off to the best possible start with six points.
CHARLIE PREDICTS: Northern Ireland 1-0 Belarus