Windsor Park tie off
Published 23/03/2013 | 11:26
Northern Ireland's World Cup qualifier against Russia has fallen foul of the weather for the second time in 24 hours, with hostile conditions rendering Windsor Park unplayable.
The Group F clash was initially due to take place on Friday night but heavy snow and plummeting temperatures in Belfast saw the fixture postponed after three inspections by Norwegian referee Tom Hagen and the FIFA delegation.
A revised kick-off time of 3pm on Saturday was set but with no let-up from the elements the referee decided to cancel the fixture, which will now need to be fitted in elsewhere in the limited international calendar.
Conditions in the Northern Irish capital were arguably even worse on Friday night, with city centre power cuts adding to the problems.
Officials, including representatives from both associations, met again at 10am and the decision was made an hour later.
IFA head of communications Geoff Wilson told Press Association Sport: "We are very disappointed the game has had to be postponed again and every effort was made to ensure the game went ahead today.
"Unfortunately that has not been possible. When the snow was lifted it became apparent that cold temperatures had led to ice forming on the pitch and the safety of players was an issue.
"We will now have to sit down with our counterparts from the Russian Federations and decide when we can stage the fixture."
While those behind the scenes will attempt to find a mutually acceptable window for that match, the attention of manager Michael O'Neill and his players will turn to Tuesday's clash against Israel.
That game would surely have been cast into doubt had any match been possible this weekend - with Windsor Park highly unlikely to cope with two games in four days.