Northern Ireland have appointed Ian Baraclough as their new manager to succeed Michael O'Neill.

Baraclough, 49, has served as the country's Under-21 boss for the last three years.

His promotion to the senior role was confirmed on Saturday by the Irish Football Association.

O'Neill joined Championship side Stoke City in November 2019 after eight years in charge of Northern Ireland.

He initially combined the position with the national team job before stepping down in April this year.

O'Neill had hoped to lead the team into the Euro 2020 play-offs, but decided against carrying on when they were delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Baraclough will instead have that task, with Northern Ireland to play Bosnia-Herzegovina in the semi-finals on October 8.

The former Motherwell and Scunthorpe United manager's first game in charge will come before that, though, with an away fixture against Romania in the Nations League on September 4.

Stoke City manager Michael O'Neill has tested positive for COVID-19, the Championship club have announced.

The former Northern Ireland boss returned the adverse result during the sixth round of testing as England's second tier gears up to relaunch next week.

O'Neill, 50, had tested negative in the previous five rounds.

Confirming the news, Stoke said in a statement on Tuesday: "He will now follow the relevant guidance and undergo a period of isolation, whilst continuing to be in regular virtual contact with his coaching staff and players."

Assistant manager Billy McKinlay will take charge of Stoke's preparations to face Reading on June 20 as O'Neill stays away.

Following his appointment last November, with the Potters at the foot of the Championship table, O'Neill inspired a turnaround in fortunes to lift the team up to 17th place.

The threat of relegation remains, as Stoke sit three points better off than third-bottom Charlton Athletic with nine matches still to play.

Michael O'Neill has permanently left his role as Northern Ireland manager with immediate effect.

O'Neill was appointed Stoke City boss in November but pulled double duty to see out Northern Ireland's Euro 2020 qualifying campaign.

The 50-year-old was also due to oversee their play-off match against Bosnia-Herzegovina in March, with the winners then facing the Republic of Ireland or Slovakia, but the coronavirus pandemic saw that fixture postponed.

With UEFA suggesting at a teleconference on Tuesday the play-off games will be rescheduled for October, the decision has been taken for O'Neill – who was appointed in December 2011 – to leave now.

"After careful consideration and following discussions with the Irish FA, I feel it is only fair that now is the right time for me to step aside," he told the Irish Football Association's official website.

"I would have loved the opportunity to manage Northern Ireland in the Euro 2020 play-off game versus Bosnia-Herzegovina and the chance to qualify for another major tournament, but the current situation means that this is no longer possible.

"It was important to leave the association and team in the strongest possible shape in order to not only have the best chance of qualifying for Euro 2021, but allow the new manager time to build upon the success that we have had during my eight-year tenure."

Under O'Neill, Northern Ireland qualified for Euro 2016 where they were beaten 1-0 by Wales in the last 16.

"It has been an honour and an enormous privilege to have had the opportunity to manage my country and I will treasure my time as manager of Northern Ireland forever," he added.

"Throughout my time here, I have been fortunate to have worked with many great coaching, medical and support staff who have all contributed to our successes and shared in some great moments.

"As for my players, past and present, I would like to thank them all for an overwhelming level of commitment and professionalism that has helped to deliver so many unforgettable highs and great experiences for us all."

Bosnia-Herzegovina have called on UEFA to postpone their Euro 2020 play-off against Northern Ireland because of coronavirus worries.

The Football Federation of Bosnia-Herzegovina (NFSBIH) has written to European football's governing body to outline its case for the March 26 game in Zenica to be called off.

It has told UEFA the spread of coronavirus in Bosnia-Herzegovina is becoming more serious, resulting in public events being banned, with entry to the country barred to citizens of countries including Italy, Germany, France and Spain.

Bosnians and Herzegovinians returning to their homeland from such countries face a 14-day quarantine period and self-isolation if they come from areas where COVID-19 has been detected.

With their squad spread across large parts of western Europe, the Bosnia-Herzegovina national team would be depleted.

"NFSBIH is asking once again that all the risks be considered that would arise in the event of this match," said the federation on its website.

On Wednesday, the NFSBIH said it had been told the Euro 2020 play-offs would not be postponed "due to the impossibility of setting new dates in the competition calendar".

The tournament is due to begin in June, with the March 26 play-off semi-finals involving 16 teams due to be followed by play-off finals five days later.

Bosnia-Herzegovina has cancelled all youth football in the country and said professional league matches will be played behind closed doors.

Bosnia-Herzegovina have called on UEFA to postpone their Euro 2020 play-off against Northern Ireland because of coronavirus worries.

The Football Federation of Bosnia-Herzegovina (NFSBIH) has written to European football's governing body to outline its case for the March 26 game in Zenica to be called off.

It has told UEFA the spread of coronavirus in Bosnia-Herzegovina is becoming more serious, resulting in public events being banned, with entry to the country barred to citizens of countries including Italy, Germany, France and Spain.

Bosnians and Herzegovinians returning to their homeland from such countries face a 14-day quarantine period and self-isolation if they come from areas where COVID-19 has been detected.

With their squad spread across large parts of western Europe, the Bosnia-Herzegovina national team would be depleted.

"NFSBIH is asking once again that all the risks be considered that would arise in the event of this match," said the federation on its website.

On Wednesday, the NFSBIH said it had been told the Euro 2020 play-offs would not be postponed "due to the impossibility of setting new dates in the competition calendar".

The tournament is due to begin in June, with the March 26 play-off semi-finals involving 16 teams due to be followed by play-off finals five days later.

Bosnia-Herzegovina has cancelled all youth football in the country and said professional league matches will be played behind closed doors.

Scotland have been drawn against Israel in the Euro 2020 play-off semi-finals.

Aiming to reach their first major finals in 22 years, Steve Clarke's side will face Israel in a one-legged tie at Hampden Park on March 26.

The winner of that match will go on to face either Norway or Serbia in the Path C final five days later.

Scotland beat Israel 3-2 at Hampden Park last November en route to topping their Nations League group and Clarke is after a repeat result in four months' time.

"The draw is what it is," he told Sky Sports News. "I never get too carried away about who you are going to play. 

"It would been nice to repeat the home win, but the match will come with its own level of pressure, which we will have to embrace.

"Being at home is very important for us. I'm sure Hampden will be full, with the Tartan Army on the march. It's a great stadium when it's full, so if we start fast we can get them all behind us."

Northern Ireland and Republic of Ireland are on course to meet in the Path B final, having been drawn away to Bosnia and Herzegovina and Slovakia respectively in the semis.

In Path A, Romania travel to Iceland and Bulgaria host Hungary, while Belarus are at Georgia and North Macedonia face Kosovo in Path D.

The four play-off winners will join the 20 teams that have already qualified for the finals, which will take place in 12 different cities next year.

Michael O'Neill insisted Northern Ireland's 6-1 thrashing by Germany on Tuesday will have "no bearing" on their Euro 2020 play-off.

Northern Ireland conceded six times in a qualifying match for the first time since 1949 (when they were defeated 9-2 by England) in what was a sobering loss to Joachim Low's team.

Serge Gnabry starred with a hat-trick for Germany, whose place at next year's showpiece tournament was already secured, with Leon Goretzka netting twice before Julian Brandt's injury-time goal.

O'Neill's side, who finished third in Group C, now find themselves in a one-legged play-off semi-final away to Bosnia-Herzegovina in March, with the winner to face either the Republic of Ireland or Slovakia.

"This game will have no bearing on the play-offs whatsoever," said O'Neill.

"Ultimately we were punished by the quality of the opposition. We are asking League One players to come and play against Champions League players."

It was the biggest competitive loss of his eight-year tenure for O'Neill, who will be in charge for the play-offs despite his appointment at Championship outfit Stoke City.

"You never want to get beaten 6-1 and it was tough in the second half particularly," he added.

O'Neill's team were defeated on both occasions by Bosnia-Herzegovina when the sides met in the Nations League last year, however the boss remains optimistic they can reach a second successive Euros.

"When the Bosnia game comes around in March we have to aim to have our key players fit," he said.

"We know what to expect in terms of the intimidation and it's a tight ground, but we will go into that game knowing that we can win."

O'Neill described Gnabry as "un-defendable" and the Bayern Munich player, who now has 14 goals for club and country this season, admitted he is revelling in his role as a striker having previously played as a winger.

"I have to try to give my best every game," said Gnabry, whose 13 goals in as many Germany games has only been bettered by the legendary Gerd Muller. 

"I am playing as a striker here, which I have enjoyed a lot. Scoring goals came easy to me as a youth player and it continues to work out here for me as well."

Low was pleased to see his team, who finished ahead of Netherlands as group winners and will now play their Euro 2020 group games in Munich, continue to press for more goals.

He said: "We enjoyed it very much. We have played a very consequential game. Even when we were up by two or three goals, we continued attacking. We can be very pleased.

"We did not get nervous after going behind, I have liked what I have seen very much. We were focused for the full 90 minutes and this makes me positive looking forward."

Serge Gnabry scored a hat-trick as Germany rallied to humble Northern Ireland 6-1 in Euro 2020 qualifying and secure top spot in Group C.

Michael Smith had given Northern Ireland a shock early lead on Tuesday, however Germany hit back in emphatic fashion with Leon Goretzka also grabbing a brace for the hosts before Julian Brandt's injury-time strike.

Gnabry's treble took his tally for 2019-20 to 14 goals for club and country as his fine start to the campaign continued with another clinical display. 

Having finished third in the group, Northern Ireland - on whom the result was harsh - must now wait for Friday's draw to discover who they will face in the Euro 2020 qualifying play-offs.

Germany were stunned in the seventh minute when Toni Kroos could only head George Saville's cross to the edge of his own area and Smith unleashed a stunning low strike into the bottom-left corner beyond the reach of Marc-Andre ter Stegen.

Germany were almost level five minutes later after Ilkay Gundogan struck the post and soon they had their goal as Gnabry controlled Jonas Hector's cross from the left before swivelling and firing clinically into the far corner from 12 yards out.

Hector was again the provider two minutes before the interval as Germany turned the contest on its head. 

His cross somehow evaded a crowd of bodies before the onrushing Goretzka made sufficient contact to send the ball agonisingly past Northern Ireland goalkeeper Bailey Peacock-Farrell and in off the post.

Within two minutes of the restart, Germany had a third as Lukas Klostermann found Gnabry, who again rifled home in clinical fashion.

Gnabry was celebrating his hat-trick just on the hour when he held off Tom Flanagan before drilling a low shot inside the far post. 

Germany added further gloss, with Goretzka firing in from the edge of the area in the 72nd minute before Brandt struck from the left side of the box in added time.

 

What does it mean? Germany starting to look their old selves

For Germany, it is starting to look a case of 'Crisis? What crisis?'. Seven wins from a possible eight and top spot in a group including Netherlands, and things appear to be starting to click together again for Joachim Low and his team after last year's World Cup disappointment. There was no shame in this defeat for Northern Ireland. They have every reason to go into the play-offs in buoyant mood after giving the big boys a run for their money.

Gnabry continues deadly form 

In his previous outing against British opponents – when club Bayern Munich faced Tottenham in the Champions League last month – Gnabry scored four times. On this occasion it was three. The former Arsenal man is a player reborn in the Bundesliga and looks one of Europe's hottest properties right now.

Smith's brilliant strike a silver lining for Irish

This was a night the Hearts defender will never forget after scoring the goal which put his team ahead against one of Europe's giants. What a goal it was as he demonstrated textbook technique to send a rasping low drive beyond Germany goalkeeper Ter Stegen. 

What's next?

The play-offs await Northern Ireland in March – they will discover their opponents in Friday's draw in Nyon. Boss Michael O'Neill will be in charge for those matches despite his appointment at Championship outfit Stoke City, yet the search for his successor begins now for the Irish Football Association (IFA). With their place already booked, Germany can now look forward to next year's showpiece tournament.

Joachim Low does not believe Germany can be considered the favourites to win Euro 2020, claiming England, Spain, France, Italy and Belgium are all ahead of his side.

Germany booked their place at next year's finals with a 4-0 win over Belarus on Saturday.

Their qualification follows a disappointing 2018 World Cup, when the defending champions slumped out in the group stage, and only avoiding relegation in the Nations League due to the competition being restructured.

Germany's squad has undergone a reshuffle over the past year, with Mats Hummels, Jerome Boateng and Thomas Muller no longer considered for selection, while Mesut Ozil retired from international football, alleging discrimination and disrespect by the German Football Association.

Low's side have won six out of seven qualifiers for Euro 2020, scoring 24 goals in the process, but the coach believes other sides are ahead in terms of their development heading into the tournament.

"I think, we can be satisfied with the year," Low told a news conference ahead of Tuesday's final qualifier against Northern Ireland.

"When it comes to the development as a whole, there are surely other nations who are ahead of us. England, Spain, France, Italy, Belgium - those teams had been forced into a big transformation before, because during the last big tournaments, like England for example, they exited early a few times.

"Therefore, those teams have been playing together for three, four years now. The same goes for Netherlands, who have had a well-adjusted team for three, four years.

"That's not the case for us at the moment, which is why I don't see us as the favourites for this tournament. But one thing is for sure, that we'll try everything, prepare well and that we want to reach the maximum during the tournament."

Low is still largely undecided on the squad he will be selecting for Euro 2020, with two likely candidates - Niklas Sule and Leroy Sane - currently out with long-term injuries.

"No idea. I don't know what it'll be next year," Low said.

"Yesterday some of the injured players were here with us. But then there are more players like Sule and Sane who are doing rehab, where we don't know how they're going to be.

"It's also important for me, in what shape players are in January, February or March. And then during the months to follow, who's able to play, who's in a good rhythm. There are certainly a couple of decisions which I can't answer today."

Toni Kroos believes Germany will have a better idea if they can compete for Euro 2020 glory after next March's international matches.

Joachim Low's side secured their place at next year's finals with a 4-0 win over Belarus on Saturday, in which Real Madrid star Kroos scored twice.

The midfielder said after the game that Germany could not consider themselves among the favourites to take Portugal's continental crown next year, given the lack of experience of some of their players.

However, speaking ahead of Tuesday's final qualifier against Northern Ireland, in which a win will ensure Germany finish top of Group C, Kroos claimed they will have a clearer idea of their ability to challenge after the first international break of next year.

"It's no surprise that we want to win the game. Of course, the chance to finish first in the group is a bit of extra motivation," he told reporters on Monday.

"We've got some good players who have had some minutes. In terms of a grade, I'd put the year between a B and a C, because it's nothing special that we've qualified.

"Several of the younger players have improved already. We've made some progress. The international games in March will be important again as we play against big nations.

"We'll have to wait and see how we perform at the Euros, but I have a good feeling about it."

Kroos partnered Joshua Kimmich at the heart of Germany's midfield in the win over Belarus and believes the Bayern Munich star can make a success of such a role for the national team in future.

"Jo can do both: he can make life difficult for our opponents and he's able to make smart decisions with the ball. The fact that we work well together wasn't a surprise to me," he said.

Ronald Koeman said it was a "fantastic" achievement by Netherlands to secure a place at Euro 2020.

A goalless draw with Northern Ireland in Belfast clinched a top-two finish in Group C qualifying for Netherlands, no matter how unspectacular their performance was at Windsor Park on Saturday.

Koeman was a key player in the Netherlands team that won Euro 88 in West Germany, but now he is pulling the strings from the touchline as head coach.

On a testing night, the one-time stylish centre-back admitted he settled for a stalemate before the end, which is why he introduced substitute defender Nathan Ake late on in place of striker Ryan Babel.

It did the job, as Netherlands reached their first tournament since the 2014 World Cup, having failed to qualify for Euro 2016 and the 2018 World Cup.

"As a team, we always want more and better, but we have achieved a great result by qualifying for the European Championship," Koeman told Dutch broadcaster NOS.

"We've done it in a group with great opponents like Germany and a tricky opponent like Northern Ireland. I also just want to say that it is fantastic that we have qualified."

Netherlands were unconvincing, and with Memphis Depay absent through injury they struggled to make an impression in attack.

Babel was perhaps their biggest threat, but that was only because Steven Berghuis did not look up to the task. Steven Davis missing a penalty for Northern Ireland was a blessed relief to the visitors.

Yet like his captain Virgil van Dijk, who expressed similar sentiments, Koeman was chiefly concerned about getting the job done.

The draw sufficed, and Koeman, who took on the Netherlands job in February 2018, said: "I am happy and proud of the team. I also think you can now forget how tonight's game went."

He admitted Netherlands "should have done more attacking-wise", but it did not appear to trouble him unduly. There is time to look for solutions now the Dutch are sure of their place at the 24-team tournament.

Midfielder Frenkie de Jong, who moved from Ajax to Barcelona in the close season, is relishing his first senior finals with Netherlands.

"We haven't played a final tournament for a while, so everyone is happy," De Jong told NOS. "We have taken a photo together and we are certainly happy that we made it. I don't think we should be too critical, but I feel we should have won here."

De Jong added: "We did too little with the ball; attacking-wise we could have done more. But we're going to the European Championship and that is the most important thing."

Captain Virgil van Dijk said Netherlands would enjoy the moment after qualifying for Euro 2020.

The Dutch ended their self-inflicted exile from major tournament football, having failed to reach Euro 2016 or last year's World Cup, when a 0-0 draw away to Northern Ireland secured a top-two finish in Group C.

Netherlands were without the injured Memphis Depay and carried little threat up front in his absence, while Northern Ireland's Steven Davis missed a first-half penalty that would have ramped up pressure on Ronald Koeman's men.

But in the end the visitors secured the primary objective for the night - the certainty they will be in next summer's 24-team European Championship.

Van Dijk, who won the Champions League with Liverpool last season, told Dutch broadcaster NOS: "We're going to a tournament again. That's the most important thing.

"We wanted to win today and we had chances. We knew it would be difficult but in the end we qualified - how doesn't really matter very much.

"In the last 15 minutes, Northern Ireland started to play more directly, hoping for free-kicks and corners. It was up to us to stay sharp and we did very well at times.

"We are going to the European Championship, let's just enjoy it now. We will prepare ourselves well for that."

Northern Ireland can still qualify by the play-off route, while Netherlands appear likely to finish as group runners-up behind Germany, whom they trail by two points.

The Germans round off their qualifying campaign with a home clash against Northern Ireland next Tuesday, and on the same night Netherlands play host to Estonia.

Ronald Koeman could celebrate a mission accomplished as Netherlands clinched their place at the Euro 2020 finals with a 0-0 draw against Northern Ireland.

Coach Koeman and an emerging band of exciting young players have lifted the Dutch out of the doldrums, after failing to qualify for Euro 2016 and the 2018 World Cup.

Their lone European Championship triumph came in 1988, when a team featuring Koeman at centre-back and the likes of Ruud Gullit and Marco van Basten further forward brought home the trophy from West Germany.

But Netherlands will head into next year's tournament as a rejuvenated side in with a shout of success, albeit they must produce more persuasive cutting edge than the Windsor Park crowd witnessed on Saturday.

There might have been a Group C upset too, but Steven Davis fired over a first-half penalty for Northern Ireland.

This was a game unlikely to live long in the memory. Josh Magennis went close with an early header for the hosts, before the ball looped up off Steven Berghuis at the other end and hit the Northern Ireland bar.

Ryan Babel was lively for Netherlands but lacked a precise finish, which was what Northern Ireland needed on the half-hour after being awarded a controversial penalty.

Paddy McNair's cross from the right was perfect for George Saville, whose volley struck the arm of Joel Veltman and trundled against the right post.

Despite Dutch protests that Veltman had no chance to get his arms out of the way, the spot-kick was confirmed but Davis hacked the ball a yard over the crossbar.

Netherlands were lacking control and made an apparent tactical substitution before the break, with Davy Propper replacing Marten de Roon, who was booked early on, in midfield.

Magennis squandered another decent chance with his head early in the second half, and news of Germany winning against Belarus meant a draw would not be enough to sustain Northern Ireland's hopes of qualifying directly through to the group stage.

It meant the side led by Michael O'Neill, who will soon give up his Northern Ireland role after last week becoming Stoke City's new manager, needed to go all out for victory.

The Dutch looked the more likely though, Babel having a header saved low down by Bailey Peacock-Farrell before Luuk de Jong came on for Berghuis. The breakthrough continued to elude both sides, with the draw a fair outcome.

What does it mean? Top two settled in Group C

Netherlands are going to the Euros, and Northern Ireland must take the play-off route if they wish to qualify. That fall-back was always likely to be their realistic target after being drawn in the same group as Germany and Koeman's side.

A striking difference

The Dutch team that ruled Europe in 1988 packed a serious punch up front, with Van Basten and Gullit an irrepressible combination. This is not a vintage era for Dutch forwards, however, and the selection of Ryan Babel to lead the line in Belfast exemplified that shortcoming in an otherwise blossoming team. The journeyman turns 33 next month and averages a goal every six games for his country. There must surely be a better alternative to be groomed for a leading role next year.

Davis misses his cue

Davis has been Northern Ireland's Mr Reliable for years, and this was his 116th appearance - beating David Beckham's mark for England to become the UK's most-capped midfielder. But the 34-year-old miscued from the penalty spot at a critical moment, his composure lacking as he cleared the bar.

What's next?

Netherlands and Northern Ireland wrap up the qualifying campaign on Tuesday. Koeman's team host Estonia in Amsterdam and Northern Ireland head to take on Germany in Frankfurt.

Memphis Depay leaving Lyon and joining a "bigger club" would only benefit Netherlands, according to Ronald Koeman.

The 25-year-old signed for the French club in January 2017 and has got his career back on track following a disappointing 18-month spell with Manchester United.

He scored 29 goals in his first two full Ligue 1 campaigns and has seven in 10 outings this term, earning him links with a number of teams, including Tottenham.

Although recognising Lyon as a big club in their own right, Netherlands boss Koeman believes his side will reap the rewards of Depay joining a new side next year.

"He plays at Lyon and is even their captain sometimes," Koeman said at Tuesday's news conference. 

"The fact that he doesn't play for the biggest team in the world clearly doesn't have consequences for his place in the national team. But if he plays at a bigger club, that will also be better for us. 

"Still, Lyon is also a big club that always plays in the Champions League. Again, the fact that he plays in Lyon doesn't mean that he won't be selected for the national team.

"You always hope that every player plays for the biggest clubs that actually compete for the big prizes. 

"I think he's the kind of player that should play at a club like that. If that's in the Premier League or at any other big club, that would be great for him. But you have to ask him about his plans."

Depay has started five of Netherlands' six Euro 2020 qualifiers but is doubtful for Saturday's trip to Northern Ireland due to injury.

The forward also missed the 2-1 win in Belarus last month and Koeman said: "It's nearly the same injury as last time, but in the other leg. 

"He's very positive, because last time he was back on the pitch in about 10 to 12 days. It's too early now to say if he makes the Northern Ireland match. 

"It might be possible that he skips the first match, but plays the second against Estonia. We'll have to wait how that develops day by day."

A draw in Belfast will be enough for Netherlands to seal a spot at next year's European Championship finals, but Koeman is targeting back-to-back wins to finish above Germany in Group C.

"It's the last two matches, the earlier we qualify, the better. A draw might be enough. But I'd rather take six points and win the group. In the end, qualifying is our goal, but I'd rather finish first."

Michael O'Neill has been appointed as Stoke City's new manager but will temporarily continue in his previous role as Northern Ireland boss.

Stoke, a Premier League club 18 months ago, are bottom of the Championship with just eight points from 15 matches.

Nathan Jones was sacked last week, but the Potters' poor form continued with a 2-0 home defeat to West Brom under the caretaker charge of former player Rory Delap.

Stoke have now agreed a deal for O'Neill ahead of a clash with fellow strugglers Barnsley, yet he will take on a dual role initially.

The Irish Football Association confirmed O'Neill would oversee Northern Ireland's remaining two Euro 2020 qualifiers and any subsequent play-off matches.

Irish FA chief executive Patrick Nelson said: "We reluctantly agreed to allow Stoke to talk to Michael after they met the compensation requirements. Michael has now agreed terms with the Championship club.

"Naturally, we are extremely disappointed that Michael is leaving us.

"However, we are delighted all parties have agreed Michael will be in charge of the Northern Ireland team for the games against Netherlands and Germany and potential Euro 2020 play-off matches next March."

Northern Ireland are third in their qualification group, three points behind leaders Netherlands and second-placed Germany - their final two opponents.

O'Neill has signed a three-and-a-half year contract with Stoke.

Page 1 of 2
© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.