Hughes - No room for error
Northern Ireland captain determined to qualify
Last Updated: September 2, 2011 8:16am
Hughes: Reminding his team that now is not the time for slip-ups
Aaron Hughes has challenged his Northern Ireland team to learn from the mistakes of the past and seize the opportunity to qualify for Euro 2012.
Fulham defender Hughes leads his side into action at Windsor Park against Serbia on Friday night before a trip to Estonia on Tuesday, two games which could prove the difference between sealing second place in Group C or missing out on the play-off place it brings.
Northern Ireland have one notable black mark against their name in the current cycle of qualifiers - a 1-1 draw in the Faroe Islands - but a 4-0 victory over the same opponents three weeks ago put them back on course.
Hughes knows there can be no more slip-ups if Northern Ireland are to make it through to the finals of a major tournament after a couple of recent near-misses.
"We're coming off the back of a good win against the Faroes and that's important because we're getting to the latter stages of the campaign now," said Hughes.
"There's less room for error so a win for us over Serbia now would really put us in an excellent position.
"We've been in this position before in terms of where we are in the group, and in both the previous campaigns we've missed out.
"Hopefully we've learned from those and we can overcome any little mistakes we made.
"I don't think there's a particular reason for why we missed out last time but we lost games at crucial times.
"In the latter stages of the campaign there's less room for error because there isn't the time to recover."