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Wednesday 27 August 2014

Northern Ireland qualifier called off

Published 22/03/2013 | 15:06

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Windsor Park has been hit by severe snowfall

Northern Ireland's World Cup double-header was plunged into uncertainty after Friday night's match against Russia was postponed due to heavy snow at Windsor Park.

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The match, deemed unplayable after a series of pitch inspections by Norwegian referee Tom Hagen and the FIFA delegates, has been given a revised start time of 3pm on Saturday.

But with more wintry weather expected in the next 24 hours, a second cancellation seems highly likely.

Despite that, FIFA regulations require the hosts to attempt to stage postponed matches the following day and the Irish Football Association will try to salvage the fixture.

Officials will reconvene at 10.30am on Saturday, with further meetings and pitch inspections due to take place.

There are also problems looming regarding the Group F qualifier against Israel on Tuesday. Even if a game does take place on Saturday, the effect on the pitch is likely to be such that a second match inside four days will be a near impossibility.

IFA head of communications Geoff Wilson said: "There has to be an attempt to play the game tomorrow because FIFA rules say every effort has to be made to play the game the day after postponement.

"We're looking to play the game tomorrow but we will have a briefing session at 10.30am and have another look at the pitch with the referee and take things from there.

"We're open to the elements here and I think if you look at the elements right now it probably doesn't look very positive. That being said, stranger things have happened.

"We're on Plan B and there could be a Plan C but at the moment we are focused on getting the game on tomorrow. There is a real willingness on both federations to play. But according to the weather forecast it is due to be bad today and for parts of tomorrow. At the end of the day it might change, but we have to do everything in our power to put this game on."

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