Saturday 3 December 2016

Northern Ireland secure Latvia friendly date for November

Published 26/10/2015 | 15:07

Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill welcomes Latvia to Windsor Park for a friendly next month
Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill welcomes Latvia to Windsor Park for a friendly next month

Northern Ireland will take on Latvia next month in their first friendly since securing a place at Euro 2016.

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Michael O'Neill's men booked their place in France with a home win over Greece before a draw in Finland guaranteed them top spot in Group F.

They will now begin their preparations on November 13 at Windsor Park against a lowly Latvian side who finished bottom of their qualification group despite some decent results on the road.

It may not be a glamour friendly but it is one O'Neill will be hopeful of winning, having never overseen a victory in a non-competitive match.

The manager does not anticipate a walkover though.

"Latvia will provide us with a good test. They had some impressive results in what was a difficult group. Picking up points against the Czech Republic, Iceland and Turkey away from home is no mean feat," O'Neill said.

"This game is also a chance for us to start building momentum as we prepare for our first-ever appearance at the European Championship finals."

Irish Football Association chief executive Patrick Nelson has called on fans to use the occasion as a celebration for their first major tournament appearance in 30 years.

He said: "While the celebrations with more than 2,000 travelling Northern Ireland fans in Helsinki were fantastic, we are hoping this will be an even bigger celebration in Belfast, allowing thousands more fans to say well done to Michael and the team on their incredible success in the qualifying campaign."

Press Association

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