Northern Ireland's bid to reach South Africa 2010 will be led by Nigel Worthington after the caretaker manager was handed a two-year contract by the Irish Football Association (IFA).

Worthington, the former Norwich City boss who was also a defender for Northern Ireland in his playing days, took over as caretaker from Lawrie Sanchez midway through the qualifying campaign for UEFA EURO 2008.

Although that campaign ended in failure, it did raise hopes for the future with the province finishing third behind Spain and Sweden in a group that also included Denmark.

In FIFA World Cup™qualifying, Northern Ireland are the third seeds in a group that includes the Czech Republic, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia and San Marino.

Only the country that tops the group qualifies directly for South Africa with the team finishing second entering a play-off.