Michael O’Neill has hailed Cristiano Ronaldo’s achievement in winning 100 caps for Portugal in the World Cup qualifier against Northern Ireland.
The 27-year-old Real Madrid winger will lead his team out in Porto on Tuesday night to record a ton of caps.
O’Neill praised Ronaldo’s commitment to the national side stating: “to reach that milestone at such a young age is a testament to the player”.
O’Neill is shorn of midfield options and is braced for a difficult night.
Northern Ireland are without up to 10 key players, including Gareth McAuley, Shane Ferguson, Chris Brunt and Grant McCann.
Although O’Neill should be able to call on an experienced back four, he has a selection headache in midfield with Oliver Norwood, Pat McCourt and Corry Evans vying for rare competitive starts.
O’Neill is calling on his players to rise to the challenge of facing the Euro 2012 semi-finalists.
“We have lost four or five players who would really be key players for us but when that happens, there’s opportunities for others,” he said.
“They’ll get the chance to test themselves against world-class opposition in a fantastic stadium.
“For many of them, it will be the biggest night of their career and it’s up to them to embrace that situation and take full advantage of it.”