Northern Ireland’s last-16 date with Wales in Paris is not being viewed as a French farewell for Kyle Lafferty as he thinks Michael O’Neill’s men can go all the way at Euro 2016.
The British teams meet at the Parc des Princes having both progressed through the group stages in their first ever European Championships, though Wales did so as winners while O’Neill’s team advanced as one of the best third-placed sides.
That means the Welsh will arrive in the French capital as favourites to end the Northern Irish run, yet striker Lafferty holds belief they will not be returning to the British Isles first.
“We played against Wales three or four months ago, we know about their players,” Lafferty said of the 1-1 draw contested in March. It’s going to be a tough game, they’ve got some world-class players but with our heart and determination we honestly believe that we can go on and beat anyone. We’ll approach the game the same way we’ve approached Poland, Ukraine and Germany.
“With the squad of players that we have, I’m honestly sitting here believing we can go the whole way. It might take some luck along the way but every team in the world is due some luck at times. I believe if we can get a bit of luck we can go all the way. We’ll upset a few teams.
“Coming here, I believed we could go the whole way with the whole squad, the way we’re fighting for each other and going the extra mile in games, it’s going to go a long way come the 90th minute. It’s going to be interesting to see who wants it the most come Saturday. The way we’ve played in the recent games, it’ll be interesting and I believe we will come out on top.”
Meanwhile, Gareth Bale says Wales’ group-topping performance at Euro 2016 has given Wales the bragging rights over England.
“It is a moral victory for us,” said Bale. “Bragging rights to finish top. It is always nice to get one over on the English.”
On the upcoming game with Northern ireland, Bale added: “At this stage no matter who you get it is not going to be an easy game. We obviously know more about Northern Ireland than Albania or Turkey and we are happy with the draw.”