Michael O'Neill's men have taken nine points from their opening four matches of their qualifying campaign, and Hughes has insisted that he and his teammates have to seize the chance to put themselves in an extremely strong position in Group F at the halfway stage.
He told reporters: "There has been a lot of talk about the importance of the match. That's due to the fact if we win, it would put us in the position of a three-horse race for qualification rather than four.
"On the flip side if they were to win, it throws them back in the mix and it becomes a real scramble for the top three places then.
"The result and the benefit of getting a good result in terms of where it will leave the group is why it is so big."
Hughes will become Northern Ireland's most-capped outfield player on Sunday when he earns his 96th cap at Windsor Park.