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O'Neill insists North 'trying to build'

Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill accepted his rebuilding process has a long way to go after overseeing another agonising away day in Cyprus.

Northern Ireland's struggles on the road comfortably predate O'Neill's arrival at the start of 2012, but a 0-0 draw in Nicosia means he has yet to taste victory away from home.

His side have not even scored in an away friendly for 13 matches following last night's stalemate – a sorry streak that stretches back eight years.

Gareth McAuley was sent off in the 75th minute, but his team-mates at least ensured Northern Ireland did not slip to defeat against a side ranked 122nd in the world.

"We are miles away from being the finished article," O'Neill said. "We are trying to build an international team here and it will take time.

"We weren't good in possession on the night and they were better on the ball."

O'Neill did not feel aggrieved by McAuley's dismissal, even though his late lunge at Dimitris Christofis took place too far from goal to be considered a clear scoring opportunity.

"I wouldn't say it was totally unjustified," he said.