A frustrated Isaac Price said Kazakhstan had been “there for the taking” in Northern Ireland’s 1-0 Euro 2024 qualifying defeat at Windsor Park on Monday night.
Northern Ireland could not convert any of the 13 efforts they had at goal – with only one on target – and were punished at the death as Abat Aimbetov broke away to snatch an 88th minute winner.
It was a third consecutive 1-0 defeat for Michael O’Neill’s side, but where Friday’s loss away to Denmark had brought optimism, given a battling display against the group’s top seeds, a home defeat to a side ranked 50 places below Northern Ireland left a flat feeling.
“It’s very tough to take, frustrating really,” said Price. “We know we weren’t good enough. We knew they were there for the taking and we didn’t take our chances. We have to look back on it and improve for the next fixtures in September.”
O’Neill knows he must be patient with the many youngsters pressed into service ahead of schedule given an injury list which stretches into double figures. Price, 19, is on that list but the midfielder was not cutting himself any slack after the match.
“Personally I wasn’t good enough, technically on the ball and I didn’t create enough chances,” he said. “It was the same for the whole team really. We have to improve in the final third.
“We’re not too bad at the back, but we conceded a silly goal at the end so instead of taking a point, we lost everything.
“There was optimism coming in from the game on Friday night. We thought we deserved more against Denmark. We have to look back at the game and see where we can improve. There are so many areas where we can improve.
“We have two tough away games coming up in September, we have to go and try and get three points in both.”
Price, earning only his fourth cap, was starting a second-consecutive match, having also been asked to play in an advanced role behind the lone striker in Copenhagen.
“I’m delighted to play, the experience is something which you can’t get anywhere else,” he said. “International football is very different to the football you play at your club.”
Price is now set to start a new adventure, having this month signed a four-year contract to join Standard Liege after rejecting a new deal at Everton.
The move promises the opportunity to get more playing time and learn in a very different environment.
“I can’t wait to go over now,” he said. “Hopefully I can improve a lot more over there and in a different side of the game. It’s a lot more technical.
“I just can’t wait to get over and get started now.”[mc4wp_form id="442993"]