NORTHERN IRELAND TO PLAY RUSSIA IN AUGUST

Ground staff clearing the snow at Windsor Park in south Belfast last month

Ground staff clearing the snow at Windsor Park in south Belfast last month

NORTHERN Ireland’s World Cup qualifier against Russia now looks set to be played at Windsor Park on 14 August.

The news comes as Northern Ireland has dropped down to 119 in the FIFA world rankings.

The match had been scheduled to take place on Friday 22 March but was called off because of the heavy snowfall.

There had been speculation that the game would be re-scheduled for 11 June.

However, the Irish FA is understood to have been unhappy with the June date because the British domestic season will have finished.

The Irish FA’s lobbying to Fifa now appears to have been successful despite Russia’s preference for the June date.

Reports in Moscow on Wednesday evening suggested theĀ August 14 date was set to be confirmed.

A statement is expected later on Thursday from the Irish Football Association to confirme the date.

Northern Ireland manager Michael O’Neill had expressed a preference to play the game at the end of May.

Russia face Portugal on 7 June and the Group F leaders wanted to fit in the trip to Belfast immediately after that game.

It was also believed that there may have been policing concerns over the potential June date as the PSNI will be preparing for the G8 summit, which is being held in Fermanagh the following week.

Northern Ireland have just three points from their opening five fixtures and have yet to win a match in the group.

Michael O’Neill’s side lost 2-0 to Israel in Belfast on 26 March.

 

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