Northern Ireland manager Nigel Worthington insists it is not beyond his team to take second place in Group C of their European Championship qualifying group.
With Italy expected to run away with first place, Worthington's team are jostling with the likes of Tuesday's opponents Slovenia and Serbia to finish as runners-up.
Worthington said: "Italy are gone. They are top and there are three or four of us vying for second. I said at the start of the campaign, the chasing pack will take points off each other and that has been the case so far."
He added: "Of course I'd love to be 10 points clear at the top but we deal with the situation. We are where we are.
"Sometimes there's a lucky strike where you can get through as a country of our size. Other times it can be ongoing hard work."
Worthington's defender, Jonny Evans, suggested on Monday that qualifying for Euro 2012 with Northern Ireland would rank as a bigger achievement than winning the Champions League with Manchester United.
Evans is a member of the United squad challenging for the Premier League, Champions League and FA Cup, and the 22-year-old claims they would have to take all three trophies to top taking Northern Ireland back onto the world stage.
"I think qualifying for a major tournament with Northern Ireland would sort of eclipse anything I could achieve with Manchester United, unless it was something like the treble, really cleaning up," said Evans.
"Definitely, it's a harder task to qualify. I think it's harder to win the Premier League or the Champions League than it is to qualify for a major tournament with, say England.
"But I do believe it's harder for us to qualify for a big tournament than it would be for Manchester United to win the Champions League or the Premier League."
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